Side Dishes

A summer party pasta salad, part 1

I am in love with these little babies. I had to wait for a price check because they were new to Kroger.
I am in love with these little babies. I had to wait for a price check; they were new to Kroger.

I’ve missed seeing the ladies from my women’s Bible study. Summer months are set aside to allow down time for church staff and families.

Jean Cope, the lady who heads up our group, has said in the past, “We ladies need our girlfriends.” I think that’s why she works to bring us together on breaks. She and others have hosted get-togethers at their homes so we can see each other before our fall groups start up again.

One member, Jan, hosted us at her home in Tipp City, north of Dayton. (Tipp City, originally Tippecanoe City, is celebrating 175 years this year.) I decided I’d make two dishes to bring: Italian pasta salad and pineapple sunshine cake.

I will tell you in this post about the first: the Italian pasta salad. For help, I went straight to Allrecipes.com and used this “Awesome Pasta Salad Recipe”: http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/52734/awesome-pasta-salad/

I will now interrupt this post to bring you the following message.

Allrecipes.com has so many recipes to offer. Even better, sometimes the recipes come with a video, which I love. Recipes originate with from professional chefs to “chief cook and bottle washers” at home. They have a magazine, too, that I subscribe to that shows the very best of recipes. These are the recipes tried and reviewed in the hundreds and have high marks — at least 4 and a half to 5 stars.

I did keep to the recipe, but I changed the ingredients to add more color and flavors to the mix.

Ingredients

Some of the ingredients for pasta salad

1) 16 oz of tri-color spiral pasta (Barilla sells in a 12 oz, so I used 1 box and added 1/3 cup from the second box.)
2) 3 cups  Nature’s fresh cherry tomato medley (heirloom cherry tomatoes), halved
3) 1 package (6 oz) provolone cheese, cubed
4) 1 package (3 oz.) of Private Selection Old World Milano salami, cut in bite-size pieces
5) 1 package (6 oz) of Private Selection Old World pepperoni, cut in bite-size pieces
6) 1 large orange bell pepper, cut in 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces

7) 1 can of black olives, drained
8) 1 jar pimientos, drained (finally found those at Meijer)
9) 1/2 bottle of Olive Garden Italian salad dressing
10) Love — Ha! OK, I really just wanted an even 10 ingredients.

After I boiled the pasta in salted water to the al dente (somewhat firm) stage, I ran it under cold water and put it in the refrigerator while I prepped the rest. Pretty, huh?

Barilla's tri-colored rotini pasta

The most labor-intensive part is getting ingredients together to play, which I learned this week is called “mise en place” (miz-ahn-plahs), or “put in place.” I have much to learn about honing and sharpening knives I found out, but that’s for another blog post. I need to work on cutting everything as uniformly as possible. I am not ready for Chopped. Chef and judge Marcus Samuelsson would not approve of the cuts I made.

The orange bell pepper was easy to cut though. The recipe calls for green bell pepper, but I was going for visual impact. I made the pieces smaller than the recipe for a selfish reason: I didn’t want to wind up with heartburn from the heat. I really hate heartburn. I remembered to remove the seeds, of course, where the heat also resides.

Those heirloom tomatoes at the top of the post, so pretty, were soft, but still firm enough for cutting. To think, I almost left Kroger without them because the register didn’t recognize the container. I am glad I waited. They are the sweetest, tastiest cherry tomatoes.

The salami and pepperoni I chose were not like the hard pepperoni and salami one buys at the deli counter. I couldn’t cube them nicely. I stacked them up, too. The pepperoni was easier, but cutting up that salami was more like tearing them up. I just made sure they were bite size. I stacked up the provolone the same way as the meats, but realized I could have bought cubed cheeses and saved time.

Private Selections Old World Pepperoni and Salami
Private Selections Old World Pepperoni and Salami

After draining and rinsing the black olives, I sliced those up, too, and added the jar of pimientos. I had never bought either of these products. I usually eat Spanish olives or calamata. I didn’t really know what pimientos were other than they are inside olives. They are sweet, heart-shaped cherry tomatoes. I found the can of black olives easily, but went to Meijer for the pimientos and later saw them also at Target.

Now, the recipe I used calls for a whole bottle of Italian salad dressing. I didn’t want to use all of it since I was making it at night for the next day. My reasoning was that the Olive Garden’s Italian dressing I bought had lemon juice and white-wine vinegar, acids that I figured would break down over time. I just made sure everything had a nice coat, tasted it, and put it in the refrigerator for the next day. I did add a little more salad dressing before taking it to Jan’s, but not the rest of the bottle. It would have been too soggy.

As you can see, I like colorful dishes. Usually, I’ll pick up already made pasta salads, egg salads, and chicken salads at the deli counter. I think my first attempt at making pasta salad was a success, except for my knife skills and too much pepper (in my opinion though; I did have heartburn.)

Awesome, color-filled pasta salad

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