Pasta pairs well with meats, vegetables and herbs

Published 10:41 am Thursday, March 7, 2019

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

 

As a new season approaches, menu selections lighten up as any pasta combines well with personal favorite vegetables, meats, and complimentary herbs.

Accented with flavorful dressings, these salads offer abundant options with universal appeal. Better yet, the salad combinations are so versatile – your favorite pasta can be used in any recipe, the salads can be eaten for lunch or dinner, and served warm, cool, or room temperature. Enjoy this abundant list of pastas that combine complimentary flavors to create some delicious, star-studded spring salads.

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN AND NUT SALAD

16 oz. spiral pasta

4 cups chopped, cooked chicken

20 oz. can drained pineapple tidbits

¾ cup sliced green onions

5 oz. dried cranberries

1 cup ranch dressing

¾ cup mayonnaise

2 cups salted cashews

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. Combine all other ingredients, and toss with pasta. Stir in cashews before serving.

RANCH WITH BACON PASTA SALAD

½ pound uncooked pasta shells

7 slices cooked crisp, crumbled bacon

1 ½ cups quality ranch dressing

½ cup frozen, cooked green peas

½ cup diced fresh tomato

½ cup grated carrots

¼ cup chopped red pepper

¼ cup sliced green onion

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool. Mix all ingredients and add to pasta.   

PASTA CAESAR SALAD

9 oz. pkg. of refrigerated cheese filled tortellini

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

¼ cup sliced green onion, green part only

½ cup chopped purple onion

¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

¼ tsp. fresh black pepper

¾ cup quality Caesar dressing

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool. Mix all ingredients and add to pasta.

SEASHELLS  BY THE SEA

2 ½ pounds peeled, cooked shrimp

2 pounds uncooked shell pasta

1 ½ pound sugar snap peas, blanched and drained

1 bunch sliced scallions, bulbs, and stalks

1 red pepper cut, in short, thin strips

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse well. Add the pasta and peas to the shrimp and toss. Stir in scallions and red pepper. Prepare the shrimp dressing to coat salad.

SHRIMP DRESSING

½ pound cooked shrimp

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup dry vermouth

4 hard-boiled eggs

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

3 cups premium mayonnaise

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a processor, combine shrimp, paste, juice, eggs, tarragon, and process until smooth. Add mayonnaise, and process again until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss.

CONFETTI MACARONI SALAD

2 pounds uncooked macaroni pasta

1 seeded, chopped green pepper

1 seeded, diced red pepper

1 seeded, diced yellow pepper

¼ cup diced red onion

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Simple Mayonnaise Based Dressing

Premium mayonnaise

Vinegar

Fresh black pepper

Salt to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool. For simple mayonnaise dressing, stir in mayonnaise that has been thinned with a small amount of vinegar using just enough to coat salad. Or you can prepare the lemon vinaigrette dressing instead of mayonnaise based dressing.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in fresh peppers, onion, dill, and toss.

Lemon Vinaigrette

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Makes 2/3 cup.

BACON, LETTUCE, AND TOMATO PASTA

1 pound uncooked penne pasta

1 pound cooked, crumbled thick bacon slices

3 Tbsp. bacon drippings

½ cup premium mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. minced shallots

2 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 ½ tsp. sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

4 cups halved grape tomatoes

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse, and drain well.  In a bowl, add mayonnaise, bacon drippings, shallots, basil, vinegar, and sugar. Salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta, lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon. Toss to coat. Season again with salt and pepper to taste.

PROSCIUTTO AND ASPARAGUS PASTA

16 oz. uncooked bow tie pasta

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

1 pound trimmed, fresh asparagus

4 Tbsp. water

¾ cup Parmesan cheese

6 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Place asparagus and water in a dish and microwave on high for 4 minutes or until crisp. Drain well. In a skillet, cook prosciutto until crisp. Tear into 1-inch pieces or crumble.  In a large serving bowl, combine pasta, prosciutto, cream, asparagus, cheese, and toss to coat.

ARUGULA PESTO PASTA

12 oz. rotini pasta

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup water

Juice of 1 lemon

1 ½ cup fresh arugula

1 ½ cup fresh basil

12 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes

12 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese

Salt to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. Combine olive oil, water, lemon juice, arugula and fresh basil in a processor. Blend until smooth. Add to drained pasta. Stir in parmesan cheese, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, salt, and toss.

RED PEPPER SAUSAGE ORECCHIETTE

1 Tbsp. olive oil

4 red peppers in thin strips

1 chopped yellow onion

1 chopped whole garlic

12 oz. cooked Italian chicken sausage

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1 pound orecchiette pasta

Fresh chopped parsley

Grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste.

Bag of spinach

Cook orecchiette according to directions. Rinse and drain. In a skillet, cook sausages until done, and slice into ½ inch slices. In a processor, combine peppers, garlic cloves, and onion in a blender with cream and process. Combine pasta, sliced sausage, and sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and cheese. Serve over sautéed spinach.

FAVORITE OLD FASHIONED MACARONI SALAD

2 pounds uncooked regular elbow macaroni

2 cups chopped sweet pickles

6 chopped hard-boiled eggs

3 pounds grated sharp cheese

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup celery seed

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1-quart mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. Combine all other ingredients.

CHICKEN, BACON, AND BALSAMIC PASTA

1 cups uncooked bow tie pasta

4 cups cubed, cooked chicken breast

¼ cup chopped red onion

4 slices cooked, crumbled bacon

¼ cup crumbled bleu cheese

½ cup olive oil

½ cup fresh basil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. fresh pepper

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. Add chicken, onion, bacon and bleu cheese. Whisk olive oil, basil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper until mixed. Drizzle over pasta mixture, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with fresh grated cheese.

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE

3 egg yolks, room temperature

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

In a processor, process yolks for 1 minute. Stop and add lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Process using short pulses. While processor is running, add oil by drops until liquid thickens. Then add remaining oil in a slow stream and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.

Flavored Mayonnaise for Salads

For different flavors, add any one of the following: fresh minced green herbs such as tarragon, basil, dill, chervil, chives, parsley or oregano. Also try cooked spinach, tomato puree, crushed garlic, crushed capers, chopped anchovies or Dijon or honey mustard. Use your imagination.

PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND TOMATOES

1 pound uncooked fusilli pasta

2 ½ pounds halved cherry tomatoes

6 oz. crumbled goat cheese

2/3 cup chopped Kalamata or black olives

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh chopped basil leaves

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. Toss tomatoes with salt to release juices. Toss hot pasta with goat cheese until the cheese coats the pasta. Add tomatoes, olives, olive oil, and basil leaves. Salt and pepper, to taste.

MACARONI AND TUNA SALAD

2 cups uncooked macaroni shells

2 cans (6 oz.) drained, flaked tuna

½ cup celery

3 Tbsp. chopped white onion

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. fresh black pepper

¼ tsp salt

½ cup mayonnaise

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. In a bowl, combine macaroni, tuna, celery, and onion. In a bowl, combine lemon rind, juice, pepper, salt, and mayonnaise. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into macaroni mixture.

FRESH TOMATO AND THYME ROTINI

½ pound of uncooked rotini

3 small tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ cup crumbled feta cheese.

Cook pasta according to directions. Rinse and drain well. Chop tomatoes and mince garlic. In a bowl, toss tomatoes, garlic, thyme, vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for 30 minutes. Add pasta to tomato mixture. Sprinkle pasta with feta cheese.

PASTA SALMON NICOISE

1 pound cooked salmon, in chunks

8 oz. cooked any short pasta

6 oz. fresh cooked green beans, cut 2 inches

¼ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ tsp anchovy paste

1 chopped clove garlic

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup pitted, halved Kalamata olives

¼ cup sliced red onion

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

3 Tbsp. drained capers

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse well. Set salmon, pasta, and beans aside. In a jar, mix oil, vinegar, paste, garlic, and mustard in a jar. Shake well. Pour over meat mixture. Add remaining tomatoes, olives, onion, parsley, and capers. Toss well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Hint: Oils vary in quality, taste, and price. The more expensive ones are pure, unrefined oils which enhance food flavor. Experiment with olive, vegetable, nut, sesame, and flavored oils. Be sure to store in a cool, dark place. Buy them in small quantities so that they’re used before turning rancid. Pastas should be cooled after cooking before tossing additional ingredients.