Friday, May 10, 2013

Pasta Salad Four Ways

Now that it is finally warming up, it's time to break out the pasta salads! I love making pasta salads for dinner because it's quick, easy, requires little time at the stove, and can easily be adapted to what I have on hand.

My pasta salad always involves pasta (obviously), salad dressing, vegetables or fruit, and cheese. I add meat when I feel like it.  I never use exact measurements because I go off of what I have, and how much I like of a certain ingredient (olives!). I like to use noodles that are on the smaller side with some shape or texture to hold the dressing. Penne and spiral pasta work well. I like to boil the pasta, drain it and rinse it in cold water. I then mix in some salad dressing so the noodles are evenly coated and won't stick together. I pop that in the fridge while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. It's nice because aside from the chicken (check out my recipe for "Leftover rotisserie" chicken) and pasta, you don't have to cook anything else. Stir it all together, and you've got dinner in minutes!

With all of the salad dressings and pasta out there, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few to get you started:

Greek Inspired Pasta Salad
Greek Vinaigrette Dressing
Chicken, cooked and diced
Olives, diced
Tomatoes, diced
Cucumbers, diced
Feta cheese, crumbled

Tex Mex Pasta Salad
Italian dressing
Chicken, cooked and diced
Black beans, rinsed and drained
Red pepper, chopped
Avocado, diced
Pepper Jack cheese, shredded

Asian Inspired Pasta Salad
Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
Chicken, cooked and diced
Red pepper, chopped
Broccoli, chopped
Green onion, chopped

Pizza Pasta Salad
Zesty Italian dressing
Tomatoes, chopped
Pepperoni, chopped
Green pepper, chopped
Olives, chopped
Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese, grated