Friday, July 8, 2011
Vegetarian Pasta Salad
Pasta salad doesn't have to be as complicated as some recipes make it. And it does NOT have to have dead animal mixed in with all the pasta goodness to be delicious! Another Zombie Mom kitchen tip is always use bowls that are too big, it's hell to try and work with a small bowl that things keep falling out of and you can't really get a good mix going. I tend to use a separate bowl for preparing and serving. Few things make me as happy as a good spacious bowl.
I like to mix it up with different shaped pasta. The noodle is quite important (it is pasta salad) and it's good to choose one that's able to hold on to the dressing well. This time I chose campanelle. It resemble a small twisted cone with a ruffled edge. When boiling your pasta be sure not to over-cook. In fact, I under cook just a tad so that they stay firm when mixed with the dressing.
Speaking of the dressing you can choose any Italian that works for you. I like to use Good Seasons, you know the kind..."you make it fresh you make it best"...And I use a bit more water than the package directions call for..like maybe 1/4 cup.
I always do the pasta and dressing ahead of time to be sure that it has time to sit and absorb while I am preparing the other ingredients. I'm a firm believer in letting food "meld" together.
It's your choice of the veggies you add to the salad. I like to be sure and keep a good balance in color. The produce I chose for this batch are green and red bell peppers and some green onions. Be sure to use the stems of the green onions too, they have a bright green color that really sets it off.
Instead of some hacked up piece of meat I like to add beans to the mix! My favorites are kidney and garbanzo. Dump 'em straight from the can into your colander and rinse thoroughly. Get'em nice and cool with cold water and be sure they drain completely before adding to your pepper/onion mixture.
Next is the best part, the cheese! Here's where I go a bit crazy. Sometimes it's cheddar, hot pepper, colby, mozzarella, provolone...sigh...they are all so fine. This time I went with the longhorn only. Add as much or as little as your taste buds require. On a side note, if you are preparing the pasta salad ahead of time for an event, hold the cheese in a sandwich bag or small container until serving and stir it in right before it hits the table..it does tend to get a little soggy.
Last steps, dice some tomato and add the pasta/italian dressing mixture to the veggie/bean bowl. Stir well, and each time you re-serve be sure to mix it up a bit as the dressing tends to settle on the bottom.
See now, you are ready for a night of howling at the moon and rolling in the dirt!