Monday, July 11, 2011

Pasta Salad

One of the things Silvermist pesters her mom to make most often is pasta salad. We tend to eat it at least once a week here. In fact, it got comical because we realized that we were making it every Friday for awhile. This would be no big deal except for the fact that Roo has speech therapy every Friday during lunch time and they like to see her eat, to check on her mouth positioning and all that. The therapist commented that she'd only seen Roo practice on pasta salad for the last four weeks. :) Oops. But yeah, everyone likes it because I put a ton of different stuff in it, and they can all pick through it. Some kids eat the whole plate. Bianca used to pick out the veggies and leave the pasta on the plate. Chip always leaves a big pile of celery. With Aurora it's the cucumber. At least I feel like they have a lot of options and are getting exposed to different textures and tastes.

The problem with trying to write out this recipe is that there isn't one. I make it differently every time based on what's in the fridge. Some days it's awesome, and there have been times where it's just missing something and I'm not sure why it doesn't taste as good. But it's very forgiving and you can throw in or leave out what your family will or won't eat.

Basically it's got several components that are a must, then within each set of ingredients things get switched up. It needs:
  • pasta
  • sauce
  • veggies
  • fruit
  • protein
For the pasta, cook a pound of something small- shells or spirals or elbows. Drain, rinse, and ice. I leave it in the sink with a bunch of ice cubes in the colander and occasionally run more water over it while I chop veggies. The colder the better.

For the sauce you've got several options. Usually I start with sour cream or plain yogurt and maybe a spoonful of mayo or a squirt of ranch added in. I never measure anything when I make this, which is problematic when I want to remember a time when it was particularly good. Then I add spice. Almost always some Lawry's seasoned salt and Mrs. Dash. We love both of those. And then something else- sometimes it's lemon pepper, other times it's a Homemade Gourmet mix. I used to sell that stuff and I have a lot in the cabinet. My favorites are Cilantro Citrus and Mock Spinach, which is mostly dill and garlic I think. Oh, and fresh basil from the garden when I can.

Occasionally I use Italian dressing as a base and then put McCormick's Salad Supreme on it. When I do that though, I like different protein. Hunks of mozzerella, and definitely leave out the fruit! My family likes this one a lot, although some of the daycare kids tell me it's too spicy. It's not really, but it's got bold flavor for sure.

For fruit I almost always use a drained can of mandarin oranges, but I've used red grapes a couple times too. It just seems to taste a lot better when there's a little sweet fruit in it.

And then protein- a couple handfuls of shredded cheese and whatever cold lunchmeat type stuff I have. Cubes of turkey ham, rotisserie chicken, just whatever needs to come out of the fridge.

And then I chop a ton of veggies. The standards are carrot, celery, red bell pepper, cucumber, green onion, and zucchini. I put them all if I have them. And usually buy extra for the beggars who stand by the chopping board. :)

Everything but the kitchen sink pasta, yes? It's yummy. Just throw tons of stuff in there and serve it cold. I'll add pictures next time I make it so it's easier to visualize. I have a feeling I made it sound way more complicated than it is.

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