The Weekly Kitchen: A super pasta salad for summer


By ANGELA McRAE, Special to The Weekly

What is it about the warmer weather that makes us want to stay out of the kitchen?

By the time summer officially arrives each year, I consider it “sandwich weather” and can happily live off chicken salad or pimiento cheese sandwiches until my dad’s tomatoes come in. Then I head to the store to grab a loaf of Sunbeam bread, the only white bread I buy all year. I also stock up on Duke’s mayonnaise for my husband, who is particular about his mayo, and we get ready to dine on tomato sandwiches till they’re gone.

But the fresh tomatoes haven’t arrived yet, and one must eat, mustn’t one? About this time each June, I start searching for new salads to try. When I looked online, I saw recipes for “creamy” summer salads, but I didn’t want creamy. I was thinking “crunchy.”

So I turned to those old metal recipe tins I’ve been acquiring at antique stores for the past few years. It seems that the recipe savers of yesteryear were big on casseroles and cakes and pies. But salads? Not so much. One of the recipe boxes has quite a few prune recipes. Prunes are fine, but really, have you ever heard someone say, “You know, what I’d really like right now is a nice big prune!” I imagine not.

But lo and behold, one of those recipe boxes turned up a recipe for a tasty pasta salad whose enthusiastic scribe had noted it was “Super!” That certainly sounded like the one to try, and the result lived up to the advertising. I especially like a dish like this because you’re “assembling” it more than “cooking” it. And if you have some broccoli and cauliflower and onions left over, as I did, you can add them to a casserole dish with some chicken breasts and olive oil and, voila, supper.

You’ll need a big pan—and I do mean big—for mixing up this pasta salad. I prepared mine in the large enamelware pan that I use for shelling peas and then transferred the pasta salad to plastic containers with lids. This salad is great as a side dish, and on its own, it’s the perfect warm-weather lunch.

Super Pasta Salad

1 (16-ounce) package spiral pasta, cooked and drained (I used whole-wheat pasta)
2 cups Italian dressing, divided use
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 (7-ounce) jar pimientos, drained
1-1/2 cups sliced black olives (I used low-sodium olives)
1 large tomato, diced

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water, then drain again. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of the Italian dressing and combine. Add the vegetables, pimientos, and black olives and combine well. Just before serving, add the diced tomatoes and remaining dressing. Yields approximately 15 one-cup servings, and this pasta salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or more.

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