Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Colorful pasta salad

We eat differently at my house in the summer months. I imagine that’s the story with your family as well.

There are many hot summer days when I go home for lunch that I want nothing more than cheese crackers and fruit, preferably watermelon mixed with strawberries and peaches.

I also love to eat pasta salads in the summer. It doesn’t require much effort to cook pasta, cut some vegetables and mix up a dressing for a dish that can provide lunch, or a side dish at least, for a few days.

I have a few standby pasta salad recipes that I like to make, but I’m always looking for something else to try for variety.

Today’s featured recipe is a pasta salad I first tried at the home Bill and Vicky Stewart in September. I liked the salad immediately, noting the dressing was different from any I had tried before.

A few days later, I asked Vicky about the pasta salad, and she told me how she made the easy dish. I tried it soon after, and my husband and I really enjoyed it.

The dressing is a mix of zesty Italian and creamy Caesar dressings. For her vegetables, she chose a diced red onion, green pepper, broccoli and tomatoes. She also mixed in a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. To intensify the flavors, she recommends mixing the peppers and onions with the dressings before adding in the other vegetables and pasta.

"I think it helped incorporate the flavors into the whole dish,” she said, adding it’s easy to adapt the recipe by switching up vegetables or adding colored peppers.

I made a double recipe of this pasta salad for my son’s graduation party. It’s a pretty dish for a party with the colorful vegetables. I made it again this week for lunches. The last few times I made it, I used fat-free Italian dressing rather than zesty Italian because that’s what I had in my pantry. For the vegetables, I filled a small container at my favorite salad bar with cherry tomatoes and broccoli and blended them into my salad (after cutting them into smaller pieces.)

Mix in some turkey pepperoni, and you’ll have a delicious meal for a hot summer day.

Vicky's Pasta Salad
  • 1 pound box rotini (spiral pasta)
  • 1 cup zesty Italian dressing (I used fat-free Italian)
  • 1 cup creamy Caesar dressing
  • Combination of favorite vegetables such as red onion, green pepper, broccoli and cherry tomatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

While the pasta cooks, prepare vegetables and stir together dressings.

Mix peppers and onions with dressing before adding in the other vegetables, pasta and cheese.

Chill before serving.

Vicky Stewart

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