September 04, 2015

Six Summer Pasta Salads - Perfect for Labor Day Weekend Cookouts

It's Labor Day Weekend!  A weekend when people across the United States of America are gathering together for one last 'hurrah' before Autumn sets in.  (Labor Day: The first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.)   

If you need a good side salad to serve, a pasta salad is a terrific addition. I like to have 2 or 3 different kinds of salads available when we host guests;  They are fresh tasting, filling and a great option for people to eat when they may not be in the mood to eat heavier main dishes being served.  A lettuce salad with two different versions of a more filling salad are bright and pretty on your serving table and taste fabulous.   

Keep them cold by placing the bowl into another larger bowl filled with ice - cold salads taste even better!  If you have a number of 'cold' dishes to serve, including desserts, I have filled a small plastic baby pool with bags of ice, covered it in a plastic table cloth and settled the dishes into the ice.  This keeps them stable, looks nice and keeps them cold. (You can also purchase various kinds of serving bowls designed to keep them cold - like this Ice-Chilled Serving Bowl with Dome Lid, but if you are on a tight budget, chilling with ice works fine!)

Italian Tortellini Salad
(pictured above)

1 package dry stuffed tortellini pasta (the flavor is your choice)
1 red pepper
1 package of Good Seasons Italian dressing
capers (optional)
fresh shredded asiago, parmesan cheese mixture or provolone, diced
tomato (optional)
cucumber (optional)
fresh snipped basil
1 can or bottle artichoke hearts, drained (water based is best)

Boil the pasta until just tender. Rinse under cool water and continue rinsing until the pasta is cooled. While the pasta is boiling make the dressing using rice vinegar and canola oil if possible instead of distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. In the meantime dice the red pepper, using 1/2 the pepper for most salads, but the whole pepper if you know the people you are serving really like fresh red peppers (like us!). Dice the cucumber and zucchini, tomato as well if you are using it. Add about 1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil - or just a 1/2 t of dried. Stir in drained artichokes. I choose to use water packed so the marinade doesn't interfere with the Italian dressing flavor of the pasta salad.


Cauliflower Pea Salad

1 head cauliflower
1 bag frozen peas, thawed
1 red onion diced
1 each red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved (save juice)
1/2 pound bacon crisp and crumbled (reserve some for garnish)
8 oz cheese, grated (cheddar or pepper jack) (reserve some for garnish)
1 dry packet ranch dressing mix (3 T)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk

Break the cauliflower in bite sized pieces, add finely diced peppers, pea's, tomatoes and onion, bacon. Sprinkle top with reserved bacon and cheese. Mix the sour cream, mayo and mix with the ranch dressing. Add to the salad. Gently stir in the cheese. Top with sprinkled reserved bacon crumbles and a bit of cheese. Chill and serve.


Garden Pasta Salad

1 box (16 oz) pasta (rotini or bow tie are pretty)
1 small onion - sliced thin
1/2 red bell pepper - diced
1/2 green bell pepper - diced
2 celery hearts - diced
1 whole carrot - julienned
1 whole cucumber - sliced or diced - leave the dark green skin on
1 cup grape tomatoes
8 oz Italian dressing of your choice

Cook pasta just to al dente so it still has a bite to it and is not mushy. Add the rest of the ingredients, chill. 


 Ranch Potato Salad

2 lb. baby red potatoes, boiled until just tender
1 c prepared Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1/2 c diced green onions
1/4 cooked, crumbled bacon
black pepper
*maybe some fine diced celery

Dice the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Toss with the dressing and onions, season with a little black pepper. Top with a garnish of bacon, chives and dust with paprika.


 Summer Garden Pasta Salad

1 box ziti pasta
4 oz. fresh or frozen green beans - 1 inch pieces
1 small cucumber, sliced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/2 c each - cubed ham, and turkey
1/2 c diced Cheddar cheese
1/2 c black olives, sliced

1/2 c. olive or canola oil
7 T red wine vinegar
2 T chopped parsley
1 t dry mustard
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t paprika
1 clove garlic, minced

Cook pasta and green beans just until tenter. Mix cucumber, ham, turkey, cheese and black olives. Mix oil, vinegar, parsley, dry mustard, sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic. Toss and refrigerate until serving.


Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

1 sm. box of shell pasta
1 pkg. of Ranch Dressing Mix
1/2 c. Mayonnaise
3-4 T. bacon bits
1/2 c. peas
1/2 c. shredded carrots

Cook your pasta until almost done and add shredded carrots. When pasta and carrots are done rinse under cold water. Place in bowl. Add peas. In a smaller bowl mix together ranch dressing mix, mayonnaise and bacon bits. Add to pasta mixture. Mix well. Refrigerate and keep cool until ready to serve. 

Serving bowl ideas available from Amazon;

Lipper International Large Wavy Bowl, Acacia
Round Plastic Serving Bowls, Party Snack or Salad Bow - 4 Colors, Set of 4
Set of 6 - Round Plastic Serving Bowls, Party Snack or Salad Bowl, Clear
Party Ice-Chilled Serving Bowl with Dome Lid
Bormioli Rocco Viva Salad Bowl, 174-Ounce


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