Apron Free Cooking ~ Creamy Pasta Salad
By Noel Lizotte
Memorial Day has launched our summer picnicking season. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy picnics. There’s just something about gathering with friends and family and eating outside! We spend most evenings at our picnic table during warm weather. Sometimes we have a crowd and sometimes it’s just a small group.
The last cookout we attended was a small gathering of eight people. For some folks, that’s a large crowd, but for us, it’s not even all the immediate family. The guys guarded the grill and made sure the hamburgers and bratwurst were cooked up right. The gals tossed a salad, prepped the chips and cowboy beans. The kids ran and worked up an appetite.
By the time the food was ready to eat, the kids had investigated all corners of the barn and the backyard. They’d discovered a bird’s nest, a baby bird casualty, a newly planted tree, the ponies and determined that there were no new kittens in the barn. No wonder they were hungry.
I’m sure we all ate our share of food. It seems like fresh air and good company makes a meal taste better and I feel like I always eat more than I should. I try to make up for the cookout indulgence over the next couple of days. One of the recipes I use to feel like I’m eating a little better is Creamy Pasta Salad. It also happens to be a great dish to take to a picnic!
Creamy Pasta Salad
1 box (8 oz.) Pasta
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen Peas
1 bottle (16 oz.) Ranch Salad Dressing
2 c. shredded Cheddar Cheese
Boil the pasta according to package directions. Add the frozen peas to the boiling water just before pasta is done cooking. Let the pasta and peas cook for another minute or two. Drain pasta and peas in a colander, then rinse with cold water. Toss in a large bowl with dressing and cheddar cheese. Chill for one hour.
Make it a meal: Add diced ham to the salad to make it more substantial. It could pass as a whole meal when served on a bed of lettuce. To make it a low fat salad, change out the cheese and dressing for low or no fat versions.
Approximate Nutritional Value per serving: Servings per Recipe: 20, Calories: 282, Fat: 22g, Cholesterol: 33mg, Sodium: 385mg, Total Carbs: 14g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Protein: 8g.
I’ve taken this salad to picnics and it’s a hit with most folks. Kids like it because they can easily identify the ingredients. Adults like it because it’s cool and creamy without being heavy. I rarely bring much left over salad home after the picnic. The bowl is usually empty.
A note on the quantities, this is a recipe intended to feed a crowd. If you’re making it for a family of four, you may want to cut the portions in half. I have a hard time adjusting my cooking to amounts for a small family. I tend to cook in large quantities. Sometimes I’m able to freeze leftovers. This is not a good freezing menu item. I’d suggest sharing it with the neighbors if you end up with too much food!