The pressure has been on – how do I select some amazing recipe for my first post when it’s been nearly 100 degrees every day and I’m hardly inspired to cook!?! Then answer hit me – share a quick, easy, cold one-bowl main dish:
Pasta Salad with Ham
While I can’t claim credit for creation of the pasta salad, I can share a few easy tips to make your summer cooking easy and yummy! I even like to make this one while camping. This is so versatile that you can vary the sauce or the add-ins to suit anyone’s preference. Except for baking, I rarely measure exactly, so feel free to adjust amounts.
One-half pound good quality pasta – fun shape of your choice
About 1 cup thick-sliced ham, cubed
1/2 to l cup cheese cubes – your choice, I used medium cheddar
3/4 cup frozen peas
1-2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 of red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 jar Hidden Valley Oven Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sandwich Spread & Dip
Milk, a few tablespoons
Sliced scallions (green onions), for garnish
1. Fill a medium pot 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil on stovetop on High.
2. While water is coming up to a boil, prep your carrots first, then red pepper, scallions and any other veggies you may be using.
3. Put the peas in a large bowl (no need to thaw – they’ll help chill the pasta).
4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and set your timer for 1-2 minutes under the recommended cooking time. This is so you don’t get mushy pasta – a mortal sin in my Italian family! Turn down heat a bit, but keep a rolling boil and stir occasionally.
5. Finish chopping remaining ingredients – ham and cheese cubes. This keeps the more “contaminated” items last, or you can use separate cutting boards for produce and meats/cheeses. Toss the ham, cheese and red pepper in the large bowl with the peas.
6. When your pasta has about 5 minutes left, add the carrots to the boiling water.
7. When the pasta is done, drain pasta and carrots in a colander and rinse in cold water until cool. Set aside a couple minutes to let most of the water drip out.
8. Add the Garlic Parmesan spread to the large bowl with the other ingredients, stir in milk, a little at a time, until thin but not watery consistency. It’s better to leave it thick and add more milk later. Stir in the pasta and carrots.
9. Garnish with scallions and enjoy!
This basically makes a pretty satisfying summer meal – add a green salad or, as my family prefers, a bunch of cut-up raw veggies on the side. This makes about 4-6 servings.
**Some notes on this basic pasta salad. I recently discovered the Hidden Valley spread and found it perfect for this. You can experiment with making your sauce or whatever strikes your fancy in the salad dressing/sauce aisle at the grocery store. If I was making this without my kids’ finicky palates in mind, I would add fresh chopped basil and more veggies, such as artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes. You could do a Greek variation with feta and chicken (instead of ham and cheddar), adding olives and a Greek-style dressing/marinade. This could easily be made vegetarian, leaving out the ham. You could do a variation with chopped pepperoni and mozzarella. The veggies can be whatever you’d like – just juicier ones, like cucumbers and tomatoes could make the pasta salad runny. You can adjust the “healthiness” of this recipe by increasing the veggies and using the smaller amounts of ham and cheddar. **
Mangia! (Eat!) . . . Cindy Lou Who