Totally gratuitous recipe post.
I used to make a killer pasta salad back when Ron and I first got married. For some reason, I hadn’t made one in ages, but I remembered it going over well at potlucks, so I decided to fix one for the picnic we’re attending tomorrow evening. I’m also taking a big spinach salad to go with it. The recipe was as good as I remembered.
1 lb. rainbow rotini (sometimes called “veggie spirals”)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix
About 1/4 c. grated Parmesan
About 3/4 c. Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own oil and vinegar, but any good Italian dressing will work)
About 3/4 c. diced bell pepper, in several colors if you can get ’em
One small or half a large cucumber, diced*
About 1 c. fresh tomatoes, diced
One can of sliced black olives, drained
One small jar of chopped pimentos, drained
Prepare rotini according to package instructions. While it boils, stir together dip mix, Parmesan, and dressing. The mixture should be thick but still pourable; if it’s too thick, add more dressing to thin it down. Chop up your vegetables if you haven’t already and toss them together in a large container that you can cover. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to cool it down, and mix it with the vegetables. Pour the dressing over the top and stir gently to coat pasta.
* Cucumber-slicing trick: To avoid bitter cucumbers — which we seem to have a lot of this season — cut off the stem end of the cucumber, then cut off the blossom end, then come back and cut a fairly thick slice (a quarter-inch or so) off the stem end. Discard the parts you cut off. I have no idea why this works, but it really does seem to make a difference.
I have no idea how many servings the pasta salad recipe makes. It tends to feed everybody at a church potluck, but we usually can’t get more than a couple of meals out of it here at the house. Dunno whether that’s a loaves-and-fishes thing happening at church, or whether Ron and I are just piglets when there’s nobody around to see how much we’re eating. Maybe a little of both. 🙂