The dog days of summer are definitely here. Hot and dry. Around here we haven’t had a good rain in months. This is the time when even the most devoted cook wants to spend as little time as possible over a hot stove. Time for pasta salad. If you plan correctly, the only thing you have to cook is the pasta and maybe some hard-boiled eggs.
At least one well-recognized cookbook author insists that pasta salad is not worth cooking because it doesn’t hold up. He argues that rice, other grains, or quinoa make better bases for a cold summer salad.
I respectfully disagree. Don’t get me wrong; I like quinoa, and tabbouleh is a favorite, but pasta salad just seems to say summer. As well, it is a perfect foil for lots of crisp and flavorful ingredients.
For this version of pasta salad, cook up some pasta, buy some pre-cooked protein (like shrimp, chicken, or ham) and open, drain, and dump a few cans of stuff. Chill or not and you have a refreshing summer meal.
- 2 cups dried pasta ( farfalle, conchiglie, orecchiette, or fusilli are all good choices)
- 2 quarts boiling salted water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ pound peeled and cooked small salad shrimp
- 14 ounce can medium black olives, drained
- 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- 4 ounce jar, diced pimientos, drained
- 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
- 8 ounce can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
- 6 ounce can baby corn, drained
- 4 ounces Swiss cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- ½ red onion, diced
- ½ cup celery, diced
- ½ cup, green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 5 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- salt and pepper
- ¾ cup vinaigrette
- 3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- Add the dry pasta to the boiling salted water in a large pot. Return to the boil, stirring frequently, until the pasta is cooked al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Coat the pasta with the olive oil
- Dump the shrimp, olives, artichoke hearts, pimientos, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn, diced cheese, red onion, celery, bell pepper, and mushrooms into the bowl. Mix gently but thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. At this point you may chill the salad to serve later or keep it at room temperature to serve immediately.
- When you are ready to serve, dress with the vinaigrette, combining gently.
- Arrange the sliced eggs on the top and serve.