Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rachie's Pasta Salad

You gotta love when we hit the picnic weather :) Since I am not a fan of macaroni or potato salad, the only way to go is some yummy pasta salad!!!

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with pasta salad when a neighbor mom showed me how to make hers. Later, when I got married, her recipe spurred on my own version!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

>1 box of tri-colored rotini noodles (or bow tie)
>16 oz. bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
>1 head of broccoli
>1/2 head of cauliflower
>2/3 red, orange or yellow bell pepper (or 4 sweet, mini peppers)
>6-8 oz. block of mild cheddar cheese
>can of small pitted black olives
>1/2 lb. deli sandwich pepperoni (or stick of pepperoni)--see step 5 for more details
>1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning (or salad supreme seasoning)
>grated Parmesan cheese, sprinkled to taste
>optional: small cherry tomatoes

Rachie's Pasta Salad


Prep Time: 20-30 min.
Fridge Time: 2-4 hours

 1. Boil the noodles until al dente. Continue preparing the vegetables while you are cooking the noodles. (You want the noodles to be slightly firm. My box normally says 7 min.) Drain. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. The salad dressing will cause your noodles to soften as it sets up. Allow the water to drain really well before adding it to the bowl. Stir.

2. Break off little florets off of your broccoli head. I always start with one broccoli head and then add more from another if I think it needs it. Put the broccoli into a large plastic bowl with a lid.

3. Pour about half of the bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian dressing into the bowl. Stir. (I have found that I like the Kraft Zesty more than any other kind.) Keep stirring to cover all of your ingredients as you add them to the bowl.

4. Break off little florets off your cauliflower head. I normally use a small portion of the full head. Stir into bowl.

5. Strip your pepperoni of any plastic casing.  (I tend to get deli sandwich pepperoni directly from the deli. I have them slice it into 1/4" slices. If I can't find the sandwich kind, I will find a roll of pepperoni around the deli area and have the deli worker slice it for me. This saves my arm and knife from doing the hardest part.) At home, I take my kitchen shears and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add to bowl and stir. The nice thing is that pepperoni lasts awhile, so leftover pieces go into my next batch.

6. Cut your cheese into small, bite-sized pieces. (I tend to use about 6 oz. I love using my Pampered Chef crinkle cutter for this job. For some reason the crinkles just make it way more appetizing.) Add to bowl and stir.

7. If you're adding cherry tomatoes, put them in whole. Stir.

8. Slice your olives in half. Add them to the bowl and stir.

9. Place your pepper into a food processor. I like mine to be very fine and hardly noticeable except through taste. Feel free to chop them if you like a more chunky pasta salad. Add to the bowl and stir. (Sometimes I will put my broccoli and cauliflower into the food processor for a quick spin when I am in a hurry. It makes for a less chunky pasta salad and even hides the evidence of veggies from those picky eaters!)

10. Now comes the seasoning. My MIL and Mom swear by the salad supreme seasoning that you find in the spice aisle. I'm not a big fan, so I use my favorite seasoning, CREOLE!!! (Creole is a southern favorite. It is a Cajun seasoning.  We love it on all types of meat when we are grilling and on our homemade sweet potato fries.) I just sprinkle a little on...maybe a 1/2 tsp. Make sure to mix it in well. A small amount will not make it spicy, but a big concentration will.

11. Stir the pasta salad really well. Add more salad dressing until about 1/8 of the bottle remains. Stir it really well again. Save the rest of the dressing until right before serving.

12. Chill the pasta salad for 2-4 hours. You can chill it overnight too.

13. Right before serving, stir it really well and take a taste test. If you think it needs more dressing, add some of the remaining dressing. I also add the Parmesan cheese to taste at this point. I normally do 2-3 sprinkles. Just note that the Parmesan cheese will dry up the dressing a tad.


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