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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What makes a good pasta salad?

I am a firm believer that what makes a really good pasta salad is not necessarily the ingredients, but the dressing.  Let's face it, most pasta salads consist of pasta, celery, carrots, red onion, tomatoes, maybe broccoli or snap peas,.......  the list goes on and on.  But to just pour a bottle of Italian salad dressing over it just turns it into a blah pasta salad!'

Recently I made a pasta salad consisting of the following:

red onion
quartered Compari tomatoes
fresh snap peas cut up
Bella mushrooms
black Greek olives
artichoke hearts (of course!)
corn cut from 5 leftover ears of corn
a few handfuls of fresh spinach
shredded Parmesan cheese

Once I had all this mixed together, I decided to experiment with the dressing.   I made a batch of Good Seasons Italian dressing.  To that, I added some fresh minced garlic, fresh chopped parsley, and some Tarragon (probably about 1 tsp of each, although I usually just add it freehand and taste as I go).  I wanted the dressing to be a little creamy, so I added about 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and blended it with my stick blender (after googling this name, I have learned it is called an immersion blender!).  I needed to add a little salt and pepper, but that was it.  The flavor was perfect, exactly what I was looking for!

I poured about half of it over the pasta mixture and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  The pasta tends to absorb a lot of the dressing, so I add the other half  just before I serve the salad.  Although I was complimented on the fact that folks had never thought to add corn in their pasta salad, it was the dressing that everyone was raving about.

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