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Easy Pasta Salad

May 30, 2011

Summer weather welcomes specific meals & recipes, including pasta salads. I make them frequently this time of the year, both for larger gatherings & simple weekday dinners. Since I steer clear from the cream/mayo based pasta salads, mine are usually healthier, incorporating lots of veggies. Actually, cold pasta is particularly good for you with its low glycemic index (slower absorption, balanced energy).

Pasta salads are the perfect time to experiment with new pasta shapes, too. I’m using radiatore in this pasta recipe (“radiators” in Italian), but cavatappi is another personal favorite. Farfalle, fusilli, gobetti, garden rotini, gigli & shells are a few other recommendations I would make.

A few tips for making pasta salads. Be sure to salt the water, especially in this recipe. It will give the pasta a nice flavor & require the addition of less salt in the rest of the recipe. Drain & rinse the pasta with cold water. This removes the starch & will keep the pasta from sticking together. Finally, reserve a little bit of the dressing to toss in later, especially if it sits overnight (preferred). The pasta will absorb the dressing so it helps to add a bit before serving.

This recipe is great with some fresh basil (I was cooking for some basil-haters, so I left it out this time)…so feel free to add that if you have it available.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 lb short pasta, such as radiatore
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups of shredded carrots
1 cup grape tomatoes
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder, to taste
1/4 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
fresh parsley to taste

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well with cold water.
  • To make dressing, combine vinegar, sugar & seasonings in a small bowl & mix well.
  • In a large bowl, toss pasta, vegetables & about 3/4 cup of the dressing.  Add more dressing until pasta & veggies are coated.  Reserve 1/4 cup to toss on salad prior to serving.  Garnish with fresh Italian parsley.
  • Refrigerate pasta salad for at least 1 hour prior to serving (but it is great to make a day in advance).
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