I love a cool, fresh pasta salad on a hot summer day. And I also love it when one project accomplishes two objectives. That’s where Clean-Out-Your-Pantry Pasta Salad comes in.
I have a favorite pasta salad recipe, and wanted to make it for some lunches this week. So one morning, I boiled up some water and then, instead of using the traditional noodles called for in the recipe, I cleaned out my pantry and used a variety of noodles from almost empty bags. (Mind you, this is a radical move from someone who was raised by a measure-everything and level-your-measurements-with-a-knife kind of cook.) This cleaning out the pantry thing felt good…so the fridge came next. Next up were some mini pepperonis (package half-full) and an almost gone bottle of salad dressing. This means not only did I declutter my fridge by eliminating a package and a bottle; I also (gasp!) mixed salad dressings in my pasta salad.
All in all, this refreshing pasta salad was a hit. I added some olives, artichoke hearts, Fontina cheese, fresh ground pepper, and fresh basil from the garden—the kids even ate this! (And did I mention I deviated from the recipe?)
Here’s the original recipe in case you’re interested.
- 6 ounces baby penne pasta, uncooked
- 1 7-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I use un-marinated.)
- ½ cup diced Fontina cheese
- ½ cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, rinsed, drained and cut into short strips.
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- 1/3 cup reduced fat Italian or Cesar salad dressing
- Freshly ground black paper
I like to boil the noodles as per the package instructions and prepare everything else while they cook. If you’re using a variety of noodles, check the cook times and add them at different time intervals so they all get done (but not over-done.) Mine were all the same cook time, so it made it easy.
When the noodles are done, drain them and rinse with cool water, and then I drizzle just a little bit of olive oil over them, and then add a touch of the dressing right away, so the noodles can soak up the yummy flavors of the dressing, and not stick together. Add your other ingredients and serve, or chill and serve later.
Do you have a favorite pasta salad? Are you a follow-the-recipe kind of cook, or do you like to live on the edge and improvise like me? If you have a recipe to share or just some favorite pasta salad ingredients, please share! I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks so much and have a happy 4th of July if you’re in the States! (And even if you aren’t, you have a great weekend, too!)