Now that the Munchkin is getting older and we’re getting more settled down with work and home life, we’re finding time to actually hang out with our friends again. And with today being a holiday, we all got together for a massive amount of good food. I’m surprised we didn’t all need cranes to get ourselves out of the house.
Since I’ve been crunched for time to do prep work lately, I decided to stick with something simple: pasta salad. Normally I use an easy-peasy set combination of ingredients that aren’t too out-there, but I noticed at the Munchkin’s birthday party that, for this crowd, it wasn’t the right combo. I’m a mite stubborn, so I took that as a challenge and decided to do some experimenting.
After googling several recipes and reading an article breaking down how to create the perfect pasta salad (that might have been a tad over-the-top, really), I decided I knew what I wanted and made my shopping list: cherry tomatoes, green and red pepper, cucumber, green onion, parmesan cheese.
Then I got to the store and found that cherry tomatoes were $4 for a container, while red peppers were $1.25 each and parmesan was $6 for a wedge. But feta was only $2.50, so maybe I would just do a Greek-inspired salad. Except that Kalamata olives were also ridiculously expensive and they were out of the less-pricey red wine vinegar.
At that point I was getting kind of desperate, so I took a good long look at the salad dressings to see if anything reached out to grab me. Then I saw it: Roasted red pepper vinaigrette with Parmesan cheese.
Back to the produce section one last time to adjust my veggie stash, and I was finally out the door. I forgot to buy olive oil, but since I wasn’t making my own vinaigrette, it worked out all right. In the end, the only thing I wanted to do that I forgot was to fry up some bacon and add that. But I got serious compliments on the way out the door, so this was clearly a hit despite the lack of piggy goodness.
Super-Easy Summer Pasta Salad (a Southern Sugar original, if by “original” you mean “birthed from the confines of expensive grocery prices”)
1 16-oz box tri-color rotini
2/3 orange bell pepper, chopped
2/3 cucumber, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2/3 yellow squash, chopped and sauteed (if I’d had more time, I would have grilled this and the zucchini)
2/3 zucchini, chopped and sauteed
1 bottle roasted red pepper vinaigrette dressing
Optional: Chopped parsley, green onions, bacon, Parmesan cheese
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse so it doesn’t stick together.
Add all your vegetables to the pasta and toss with approximately 1/4 – 1/3 bottle of dressing. Refrigerate at least one hour.
Just before serving, add more dressing to your taste and toss to thoroughly coat.