It’s officially summer time! And with the summer solstice, it certainly got dang hot in North Carolina. And muggy. And gross. I’m sweaty all the time. But just for the record, this is NOT a complaint. I most certainly prefer this weather to anything below 60 degrees. Though we’ll see if I’m willing to negotiate that number come July. It’s maxed out at 90 so far, so I may change my mind once it gets into the triple digits.
I went to my nephew’s 6th birthday party on Saturday, which meant hot dogs and pasta salad and cake and ice cream. Yum. That night, I was heading to a potluck for a friend’s housewarming party, and I hadn’t any ideas. But the pasta salad was good inspiration, and I decided to make my own.
My mom and sister make a very simple, classic pasta salad: noodles, olives, and feta cheese, all held together with Italian salad dressing. I expanded on the idea by adding a bunch of veggies I had in the fridge from our CSA delivery. I left out the olives though: disgusting.
When you make this, there are only two basic things to know:
1) Use Girard’s Italian dressing. For reals, it’s the best. And don’t put it on until within an hour or so of serving it. If you put it on too far in advance, the pasta will soak up the dressing, and you’ll have to add more to get more flavor, which is just wasteful, both of the delicious dressing and of calories. If you need to make it in advance, just put everything together except the dressing, and add that when you’re ready. Easy peasy.
2) My family’s basic ratio is a pound of pasta to a bottle of dressing. I cut it to about 3/4 of the bottle, but go with what works for you. As long as you keep that ratio, you can then add whatever fresh, raw veggies you want.
Oh, here’s another tip! Let the pasta air-dry a little bit before you mix everything together. If there’s too much water, the oil-based dressing won’t stick. (But if the pasta is too dry, it will absorb all the oil and flavor.)
The cool thing about this dish is its versatility. You can add whatever veggies you and your family like, so it’s completely and easily customizable. And it can easily serve as a side to hot dogs and burgers OR as a cold main dish, perfect for a hot summer night. Add some beans — edamame would be awesome! — and it would be an even better main course.
Summer Pasta Salad
1 lb pasta, preferably rotini or bowtie (farfalle)
1 bottle Girard’s Italian dressing
feta cheese, crumbled
1 zucchini, diced and quartered
1 yellow squash, diced and quartered
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
1 handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Boil the pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Chop the vegetables. Place pasta and veggies in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing. Add crumbled feta cheese, to taste.
Toss and serve.
Note: For a vegan dish, omit the feta. For gluten-free, substitute rice-based or other gluten-free pasta for the rotini.
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Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
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