Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Italian Pasta Salad and Iced Tea--Summer Must-Haves

By Cal Orey
Hello Pasta salad, with a Mediterranean flair. Nothing says summer like a quick-cook and make cold noodle salad chock-full of colorful vegetables. It is a salad with cooked pasta (served cold), often mixed with a vinaigrette or Italian dressing. It can be an appetizer, side dish, or entrĂ©e (especially with more than less protein).  Pasta salad is often regarded as a summertime meal, but it can be served year-round.
Rotini, shell, penne, elbow or bowtie pasta shapes are the most traditional. Add-ins include crucifers, cheeses, nuts, herbs, spices, poultry, or seafood. Broccoli, carrots, olives, onions, and Parmesan and/or hard cheeses can also be found in this salad served at picnics to buffet bars.

"Nothing says summer like a cold noodle salad chock-full of colorful

One summer the love of my life paid me a visit. On this particular day we were out of sync. This is the place, paradise amid pine trees and a Lake, where we’d interview subjects for magazine articles, gambled at casinos, hiked on trails, went to midnight movies in Reno, strolled by the river, and ate at Reno-Tahoe Sizzler(s) savoring the favorite salad bar with its Pasta salad(s). When he asked, “What do you want to do?” He looked bored. He was distant. A few hours later, after few words in between, he drove off the hill at dusk to the flat land. Ironically, I had stuffed the fridge with our favorite foods, including store bought Italian Pasta salad. That night I grabbed the plastic deli container, sat with my dog on the deck and munched on the chilled, familiar noodles. While the pasta was good as always--a constant--it was apparent the romance in my world was stale.
So, while love comes and goes, some foods, like Pasta salad is there waiting for us, like a warm and furry loyal canine friend, always there during the best and worst of times. After time passed, I learned how to make homemade Italian Pasta salad, inspired by the Bay Area, my home.
2 cups Rotini and/or other small pasta, cooked (multi-colored)
1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets, steamed or boiled (do not overcook)
½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup black olives, sliced
¼ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
½ cup cheese (crumbled blue or Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup Vinaigrette or all-natural premium Italian store bought dressing
In a bowl combine vegetables, cheese, nuts, herbs, spices, and poultry, or seafood. Set aside. Boil pasta. Remove from stove top. Mix in chosen ingredients. Add dressing, fold in gently. Chill in refrigerator. Makes 3-4 servings.
This salad can be pre-made. To make it more fun you can make a chilled Pasta salad bar much like a potato or ice cream bar. Dish up the pasta with dressing. Add spices. In small dishes provide a variety of ingredients, including vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and lean protein—all chopped. Let your guests make their own salad. Not only is it oh so good, especially with the tang of artichoke hearts and olives (these can be found fresh in the deli at the grocery store) and filling with cheeses and summery vegetables. Pair it French bread and iced tea with a twist of berries. The best part is, mixing it up so everyone loves noodle salad with people or solo.
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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