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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pasta Salad

By Tom Lingle


Pasta salad is one of the few foods that can be eaten as a side dish or as a main course. Countless recipes call for any number of ingredients to produce a variety of flavorful salads, each with its own special taste. Some recipes call for vinaigrette dressings, while others call for creamy mayonnaise or milk-based sauces. Most any type of pasta can be used in a salad, and nearly every vegetable can complement the other ingredients in the dish. Its diverse nature and all-around appeal makes pasta salad a great addition to any gathering or family meal at home.

Pasta has been around for a long time. It has shown up on the walls of fourth century B.C. tombs, and there is evidence of noodle making in China that dates back as far as 3000 B.C. The Greek god Vulcan is believed to have invented a piece of equipment that made the earliest form of spaghetti. English colonists brought to America the art of boiling noodles and serving them with cream sauce and cheese, and it was Thomas Jefferson who brought the first macaroni machine from France to the United States in 1789.

Making pasta salad can be as simple as combining elbow macaroni with mayonnaise, or can call for a long list of ingredients that blend different flavors. An easy pasta salad to be served as a side dish calls for rotini, black olives, tomatoes, crumbled cheddar cheese and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The leftovers can be doctored up with pepperoni or chunks of ham, broccoli, carrots and extra cheese to create a filling lunchtime or suppertime meal. Using tri-colored pasta with bell peppers in red, yellow and green tossed with a light vinaigrette makes a delightful presentation that is pleasing to the palate, while using such ingredients as Kalamata olives and feta cheese create a tasty Greek dish. Rigatoni with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing with an olive oil base seasoned with parsley, basil, thyme and oregano make a light Italian salad.

Some pasta salad recipes call for a creamy blend of mayonnaise, milk, mustard, lemon juice and basil that is poured over pasta and vegetables. Adding chicken, turkey, tuna fish, salmon or baby shrimp can turn an appetizing snack food into a delicious, filling meal. While rotini is a popular pasta choice for salads, using shapes like wagon wheels or farfalle will keep the kids happy during mealtime. Pasta salad is versatile, and when creating the tasty dish, the possibilities are only as limited as one's imagination.

Pasta salad is healthy and delicious way to take advantage of seasonal vegetables. Check out our growing collection of the best pasta salad recipes, and create something new and tasty in the comfort of your own kitchen. Find a great entrée or side dish, and enhance your pasta salad making skills with our recipe cooking tips and techniques.

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