Spring Time Pasta Salad

I just signed up for a weekly co-op package in the community where we live and it’s making my gleefully excited.

I used to do a delivered co-op years and years ago when we were in Boston. It was so great since it was all organic and it helped us get creative with meals when things like kale, watermelon radishes, pea shoots, etc. The variety was nice and it helped us be creative with our meals as we tried out new recipes to use the fruits and veggies we received.

A neighbor told me about the co-op that is hosted on FB so I checked it out and immediately signed up. It’s affordable at $20 for a small box and $30 for a larger one. But they aren’t small to begin with, you get plenty of things! You can swap things out and even add things on. It’s great.

I think it will help save us money since this box is really affordable (not everything is organic) and will help us eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the week. This week the box I purchased included: 3 Beefsteak Tomatoes, Mangoes, 1 Hydro Bib lettuce,  Miniolas (Honeybells), 5+ Yellow Squash, Gala Apples, 1 bunch Asparagus, 2 Avocados,1 bag of Mini Carrots, a bunch of Bananas, 1 Red Onion, and 1 Yellow Onion. A total deal for $20A As well, they had a 1 ounce bag of microgreens from a local farm as a bonus that was added to the box. There are always add-ons you can select but I stuck with the standard box for now, but I know I’ll be checking them out too in the future.

 

The pickup for our community is on Tuesday nights and we already have been using up the goods. Apples sliced up at breakfast, avocados added to turkey tacos, and the bunny and I split a tomato.

I was really excited about the bunch of tender asparagus since and I just knew what do with it… Pasta Salad!!

I whipped up this pasta in no time to serve along with some chicken. It was such a great side dish for some chicken that we were having for dinner. I certainly could have just steamed the asparagus and squeezed some lemon on it, and it would have been great, but I really wanted something extra fun as a side dish.

The rotini is a great shape for pasta salads, but if you don’t have that on hand then grab a box of penne or bow ties. I almost used a box of whole wheat rotini but I didn’t think it would be as pretty. ha!!!

There is a lot of shallot in this recipe. It is not a mistake. Trust me. It cooks down and gets nice and mellow in flavor. It gives it a great complex oniony flavor without you just tossing in some red onion (which is delish, by the way) or garlic.

I used a sun-dried tomato basil seasoned one from Aldi, but a plain goat cheese would be just as awesome. Just make sure the pasta salad is nice and cool before you add it in or it’s just gonna melt through as you mix it in. Not a bad situation, but I think the little chunks of goat cheese as you take a bite gives it such a good pop in flavor.

Now, grab a blanket, some fried chicken, chilled rose, and this pasta salad to enjoy a picnic in the gorgeous spring weather!

Spring Time Pasta Salad

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rotini pasta, or pasta with a similar shape
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 Cup diced shallot
  • 1 pound thin stalked asparagus, cut into pieces similar in size to the pasta (approx 1″)
  • 2-3 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 8 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

For the dressing

  • 3/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Process

  1. Cook the pasta in well salted water until it is al dente, according to the pasta’s instructions. Drain and rinse well, let cool in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, saute the shallots until translucent and tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus to the shallots. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the asparagus is bright in color and soft, but still crisp.
  4. While the asparagus is cooking, mix together all of the dressing ingredients.
  5. Add the cooked shallots and asparagus to the cooled pasta. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and dressing. Mix well.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes prior to adding the goat cheese, mix well again. Enjoy!
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The BEST you’ll ever have… My Signature Macaroni Salad

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I wish that macaroni  salad was a food group.

And, of course, you’d get to have 4-6 servings to meet your daily servings requirements.

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If that was the case, I’d be SUPER healthy in the summer.

Ugh! I just love macaroni salad so much. I make it and eat it too often when the days are nice and hot. Sure, I can eat it year round but it’s just one of the things that is seasonal to me.

Speaking of seasonal items- hey Starbucks, I love PSL’s A LOT but debuting them for the season in August is too soon. TOO SOON!!!!!

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You know the book “When you give a Mouse a Cookie”? Well, I have my own version.

>When you give Nicole a nice day, she will want to grill.

>When she’s grilling, she will want some steak.

>When she’s eating her steak, she will want some macaroni salad.

>When she’s eating macaroni salad, she will want a beer…

Ugh, I’m annoying. Just make this macaroni salad.

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I just can’t get over the flavors of this macaroni salad since it’s not like typical ones that have all that tang from pickles. It’s mellow, sweet from the carrots and sugar but there is a follow through bite from the vinegar and onion. You really don’t need much onion either to get it. Start off with a bit and add from there as you taste it.

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Besides tasting great, it’s great to serve at parties as you can prepare it a day in advance so you’re not rushing around the day of your party. Plus the flavors are even better once they have mingled a bit so making it in advance is a real win!

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I use a zester to grate my carrots and onion. I’m sure there is a fine enough garter on one of the surfaces of a box grater, it’s just that I don’t have one so I use a zester. The most important thing is that the carrot and onion are teeny tiny specs, so don’t try to short cut this by chopping it. It’s worth the tiny bit of elbow grease you need to put into it to grate it up.

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Hurry up and make this as the unofficial end to summer is in 2 weeks. EEEKKK!! At least the real end of summer is further on in September so you will still have plenty of time to until then. Yum!!!

Signature Macaroni Salad-5

 My Signature Macaroni Salad

Makes 12 servings (unless you are me and then it’s 3, maybe 4…jk!)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup of finely grated carrots, about 2-3 carrots
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of finely grated yellow onion
  • 1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper

Process

  1. Cook the macaroni until it’s just ‘al dente’ according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss in ice cubes to chill the pasta as well.
  2. Combine the grated carrot, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Remove the ice once the pasta is cold. Mix the pasta into the mayonnaise mixture. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chill the macaroni salad for at least 1 hour prior to serving. Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Post contains affiliate links.

Fiesta Pasta Salad

Fiesta Pasta Salad

Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé
Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé

FIESTA!

Fiesta Pasta Salad_01

This pasta salad recipe is great for Cinco de Mayo!

Oh wait, you mean to tell me that we’ve sailed right by Cinco de Mayo and the next holiday is The Fourth of July!?!? Well, then… this pasta salad will be great for The Fourth of July as well. Trust me.

How do I know? I just know. This will steal the show next to your burgers and dawgs.

It has so much flavor from the tomatoes, beans, and other crunchy vegetables, which is topped off with a lime based dressing.

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While tomatoes are really ripe and readily available in the summer, it’s nice to be able to just open a can of tomatoes that have been picked at their peak of freshness. That flavor is sealed in just for you. And my favorite thing is that they are all ready for you to quickly use!  I normally have whole canned tomatoes in my pantry but cans of  diced ones are great to have on hand for mixing into recipes quickly. Aside from being a quick ingredient to incorporate into your recipes, it’s really economical too. Always a plus with a new baby!

Don’t get hung up thinking that canned tomatoes are only good for pasta sauce! They are great in salads, cooked with fish, steak, and chicken, and they are a great base for dips and sides.

Besides the tomatoes this pasta salad is hearty and flavorful from the beans, peppers, and corn. The cilantro, garlic, and lime add a lot of flavor to the pasta salad to really give it that fiesta in your mouth feeling. And don’t forget the vinegar either, the little bit used is enough to give everything a bit of a tartness that works well with the sweet tomatoes.

Make a big bowl of this and it will be gone as your friends and family enjoy Cinco de… nevermind… the Fourth of July!!!

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Olé!

Fiesta Pasta Salad

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rotini shaped pasta
  • 2 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes, such as Red Pack’s
  • 15-oz can of black beans
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 4 oz of sweet peppers, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper

Process

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions. Drain, set aside and allow to cool completely. (I usely mix some ice in to help speed up the process)
  2. Drain and rinse the black beans. Pour into a very large bowl.
  3. Drain (don’t rinse) the diced tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the beans.
  4. Add the corn, peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro to the beans and tomatoes.
  5. Mix together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, and garlic. Pour over the tomato mixture.
  6. Add the pasta and mix until completely combined.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste

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Redpack is hosting a great giveaway on their Facebook page that you just have to enter. The Gourmet Salad Kit prize pack is worth $350! Hop over to FB and enter the “Toss The Flavor” Contest!

Photo: Win a $350 Gourmet Picnic Gift Basket or 1 of 3,000 Redpack Tote Bags in the "Toss in the Flavor" Sweepstakes! Don't forget every friend that enters the sweepstakes from your referral gives you another entry for the grand prize! Enter Here: http://bit.ly/Redpacktote #TossintheFlavor #RedpackRecipes

The prize pack comes with a Redpack Tote Bag, one Picnic Basket and Blanket, a Pottery Barn Wooden Bowl Serving Set, and the following Pampered Chef items: Salad & Berry Spinner, Salad Chopper, Salad Bowl Lid, Bamboo Salad Tongs. And of course, Redpack products to make the new Redpack “Seasonal Salad Recipes”.

Awesome, right?!? So be sure to get over there ASAP and enter. Contest runs though July 2nd, 2014.

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Wait for it… I’m giving away a fun Redpack prize as well!!!

You’ll get 3 28-oz cans of juicy diced tomatoes, recipe cards, and an tote bag!

All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me which recipe you’d love to make from Redpack’s extensive recipe index. Giveaway ends July 6th , 2014.

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*This post was sponsored by Redpack. While I did receive complimentary products from Redpack, these opinions are entirely my own.

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