Pasta salad

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.

Pasta salad
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. 🙂


Three miles

“We can’t all be heroes, because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
— Will Rogers

It’s 87 degrees at the moment. claims it “feels like 91,” but that should come with a caveat: It feels like 91 if you’re sitting still. For a runner, a better description of the current weather conditions would be: “Feels like an estrogen-deficient blast furnace tap-dancing under stage lights while wearing a polar-fleece-lined angora sweater and eating a bowl of five-alarm chili.”

That said, I really had a pretty great run, largely because of the proliferation of wildlife wandering around the trail. I saw a very young squirrel zipping around under the trees and sitting in the middle of the trail, munching on acorns and looking confused as I passed. It was ridiculously cute. Several doves and robins were flying around under the trees, and a beautiful jaybird flew across the trail right in front of me at one point. I saw an absolutely breathtaking water bird wading along the edge of Red Fork Creek, too. I think it was a green heron. Tired as I was after my run, I went ahead and climbed down the bank to get a better look. It was a strikingly beautiful animal. Wish I’d had the camera with me.

I like to follow a hot run with a cold bottle of Gatorade or similar sports drink. I’ve heard nutritionists rip on sports drinks, but they’re caffeine-free and readily available at convenience stores, which is enough for me.

I’m not terribly picky about sports drinks. If it’s not Powerade, I’ll drink it. With that in mind, when I got to QuikTrip after my run, I grabbed a bottle of a blue product called “ACCELERADE,” which the label calls an “advanced sports drink” with a “4:1 carbohydrate protein formula.”

This is code. It means: “Costs nearly $3 for a 20-ounce bottle and tastes like runoff from the W.G. Krummrich Plant.”

It does, however, come with a nicely designed label featuring black-and-white pictures of some supermodel-looking people riding bicycles and running in the surf, along with a quote from Dave Scott, umpteen-time Ironman champion, who says:

“I’ve been competing for over 25 years and I’ve experimented with all kinds of nutrition. ACCELERADE is the first sports drink with the ideal ratio of carbs to protein to optimize athletic performance.”

Does anybody buy sports drinks on the basis of celebrity endorsements? I mean, really, now: This is a guy who could drink a cup of Tidy Bowl at every water stop, and he’d still have the “ideal ratio of carbs to protein” to beat my best marathon time by a good three hours.

Might taste better, too.

Box score:
Miles run today: 3
Total miles: 13.1

Next scheduled run: Three or four miles on Monday … unless we take Songdog along to the church picnic tomorrow, in which case I might run a couple of laps around Haikey Park to knock some sense into him before everybody shows up.

who believes that Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk has the ideal carbs-to-fat ratio to optimize athletic performance