Pasta Salad

My daughter posted a picture on Instagram of a pasta salad she made with her dinner the other day and I asked what was in it, because it looked crazy good. She gave me the link, I looked….and promptly changed it to what I had on hand and changed the sauce entirely because I opened the fridge door and saw the salsa.

Pasta and I have had a shaky relationship over the years. Once upon a time, I would only eat spaghettini pasta (super thin spaghetti noodles). Then I worked my way up to spaghetti. And there I was, for quite a long time. I didn’t eat macaroni, fettucine, rotini, ziti – none of it. It was too thick and chewy and so easy to not cook it quite right.

I don’t know where the aversion to pasta came from, I’m fairly certain….no, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt if my mom made pasta in any form I ate it….or else! 🙂 So that probably wasn’t where – perhaps when I was a really broke student working at a wanna-be Italian restaurant? I have no idea, but I definitely had a massive aversion to pasta for quite a number of years.

I also don’t know how I got past my aversion to it….I remember ordering fettucine alfredo at Chianti’s and making baked ziti (Oh, I love baked ziti) and making/ordering other pasta dishes but I don’t remember if it was one defining moment or just gradual sneaking up of pasta tolerance, but I’m happy about it. Pasta is inexpensive and, let’s face it, bland so it’s all about what you put on it and there’s a whole lot to put on it!

I try not to have too much pasta because I try to keep my carbs down, but I definitely indulge. My one remaining aversion to pasta is pasta salad. I still have a little bit of trouble wrapping my head around cold pasta, but any time I see a pasta salad that looks good, I’ll give it a try. I’m the only one in the house/family that has the cold pasta issue, so it gets eaten by others if I don’t like it.

I liked this one. I’m not ready to say loved, but I absolutely liked it – the others in the house loved it, it was a snack for someone last night and lunch for someone today – there’s only 2 servings left in the fridge, so it was a definite winner.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz pasta, cooked and cooled – I used macaroni, but rotini, shells, bowties, even orzo would work
  • 1-1/2 cups corn (if frozen, thawed)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ of a red onion, chopped or sliced then soaked in cold water and drained (the soaking will mellow the onion bite)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • (other things that could be added – avocado, zucchini, cucumber, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, roasted squash or sweet potato)
  • ½ cup of chopped cilantro (could use parsley if cilantro isn’t to your liking)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup ranch dressing (homemade is good)
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 2-3 TB lime juice (taste after 2 TB, add more if wanted – depends on your pucker tolerance)
  • 1/8 – ½ cup Cotija, feta or goat cheese crumbled, really, any cheese, if you are so inclined to add it, would work

Mix the dressing ingredients together first, less the cheese, and let it blend together in the fridge until everything else is done.

Cook the pasta as per the directions on the package. Drain and dump into ice water to stop the cooking process and stop it from being sticky. Drain after a couple minutes.

Chop up the vegetables you are using, and toss everything into a large bowl – make sure it’s big enough you can add the dressing and mix it in without dumping anything on the floor (not that I would know anything about that).

This is best if you can give it a couple hours for the flavours to blend in the fridge, but if not, it’s still excellent.

If you are low carb or keto, there are pastas on the market specifically for those diets or you could make a pasta with egg and mozzarella cheese or you could skip the pasta entirely.

The sauce, as made above, with no cheese, is 1 carb per serving (if split into 8 servings), so it isn’t a big chunk of your day.

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