Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Your Basic Pasta Salad

The more experienced I become with cooking, the less reliant I tend to be on specific recipe ingredients, amounts and measurements.  "Winging it" doesn't usually result in miserable disasters anymore, and I've got a good idea in my head for what works and what doesn't.  With knowledge comes freedom (and responsibility, but that's a given, right?), and this last year I feel like I've been getting into a groove with it all.

Pasta salad, like many meals, is meant to be done improv-style.  That's why this recipe is more of an outline than an actual recipe, because it's in experimenting where all the knowledge is hiding, waiting to be discovered.  I'm just here to offer up suggestions and guidelines to help you avoid miserable disasters - though those can be the best learning experiences of all.

Your Basic Pasta Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side


3 cups uncooked pasta, like fusilli, macaroni or small shells
1 1/2 cups cooked beans or 1 can (chickpeas or kidney beans work well)
3-4 cups assorted small-cut vegetables, such as broccoli, cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, etc.
1/4 cup fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme or a mixture)
Sliced olives (optional)

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper


1.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse well with cold water, and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, beans, vegetables, herbs and optional olives and stir to combine.  In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.  Alternately, you can blend the dressing up in a mini-blender if you've got one.  Add the dressing to the pasta salad bowl, stir well, and refrigerate at least an hour.

I think one of the reasons that pasta salad makes such good picnic fare is that it tastes great at room temperature - I almost prefer it that way to the chilled, fresh-from-the-fridge kind.

See those sprouts hanging out on my kale?  Those are totally fresh, homegrown and much-loved red clover sprouts!  Logan and I have forayed into kitchen gardening and it's so simple that I wonder why we didn't brave this territory before.  And they're oodles more fresh, bright and crisp than the store-bought kind!

In other news, have you heard the thing about Daiya?  The thing where they have new products coming out?  Oh hell yeah.  You've gotta check this out.

Take care!


  1. Hey Lys!
    I just wanted to thank you for your awesome words regarding my fast, and also to congratulate you on your little feature on One Green Planet.
    Go you!

  2. That plate looks gorgeous! I totally agree, pasta salad is definitely a meal that "winging it" is appropriate. Yours looks really great and the dressing sounds light and fresh and delicious! That is so awesome that you started a kitchen garden! One day I'll have one too :)

    That is so awesome about the Daiya! I see some awesome grilled cheeses happening across the blogosphere in the future :) Thanks for the heads up!

    1. If I had the space, I would totally diversify my "garden", too. I'd be sprouting everything! One day!

      The shredded Daiya already makes for good grilled cheese, so I can't imagine the awesomeness of slices! Oh, happy days. :)

  3. It has been ages since I had pasta salad! I always forget about it in the winter, but I sure love it!

    1. I know, pasta salad in the winter is totally random. :) But it's simple, and sometimes that's all you want!

  4. Nice lookin' sprouts! Good sounding pasta salad too. I would probably add some celery seed and dried dill, just because I can never resist.

    1. Logan likes to play his hate on anything resembling celery, but I bet that would be yumtastic. Both dried dill and fresh dill would make an excellent addition!

  5. At the risk of sounding dumb.......what kind of mustard are you using here?

    1. Not dumb at all! It's prepared mustard. I'll modify the recipe to make it more clear. :)