Cheater, Cheater Pasta Salad Eater

Friday, April 29, 2011

Okay, so I have a confession.  Sometimes I the kitchen.  I have no shame of using things from boxes when I don't feel like putting the time or effort into making something from scratch.  In the cases that I do use something from a box, I like to put something fresh with it as well.  Unless it's macaroni and cheese, that is just fine all alone.

Today we had a BBQ pot luck at work.  Since I was making a time-consuming dinner I didn't want to put a lot of time into making my assignment: side dish.  I decided to make my trusty go-to, pasta salad.  My mom introduced me to Suddenly Salads a few summers ago when I needed to bring something to a get together.  Ever since, I have taken this pasta salad and ran with it.  I typically use the same ingredients for my salad (forgot the pepperoni this time) but feel free to mix it up. Tomatoes, olives, salami, hot peppers, different cheeses. Add what feels right.
The cast of characters 

Here it goes:  (Music selection: All of the Lights--Kanye. I have a new obsession with him)
Wash all of the vegetables (carrots, broccoli and shallots this time) and chop them into bite sized pieces.  When I say bite size, I mean about the size of the noodle.  You want to be able to put every ingredient on your fork for the perfect bite.

While you are chopping, put a pan on the burner to boil water...I hate waiting for things.  Cook the pasta a few minutes less than what the box says.  It should be very al dente.  There is nothing worse than soggy noodles, especially in pasta salad.

Put the veggies in the bottom of the bowl.

Drain the noodles and cool them immediately.  I like to put ice cubes in the strainer to speed this process up...again with the waiting issue.

Put the noodles on top of the veggies, this isn't a strict rule but it just works.
Next mix the seasoning packet in with the noodles and veggies.
This is the part where the recipe on the box and I go our separate ways.  On the box it says to add oil and water.  Here's where they go wrong.  There is NO flavor in water and little in oil.  I am all about flavor so there will be no oil (well technically there is but...) and water in my pasta salad.  Typically I don't add water when it calls for it in recipes.  Add chicken stock, add wine, add a juice but no water here.  Flashback to Coyote Ugly "hello no H20!" Anyway,  these things add flavor instead of dulling flavors out.

Moving forward....add the Italian dressing.  I am a firm believer that Wishbone makes the best Italian dressing for anything that has broccoli in it.  My mom always bought Wishbone Italian dressing so I am a bit biased.  But, it is pretty perfect in this salad.

I would say a cup is really how much I add if you make a double batch.  Which you have to because this stuff goes fast and one box doesn't make a lot.  It sounds like a lot but I make this a day before to let everything meld together.  The noodles really soak up the moisture.
Next add the cheese and you are set.  Done and done.

In the morning I check it and see if it needs more moisture.  Taste it and if it looks like it is a little dry, add a little more dressing.  Top with parm and enjoy!

Cheater Italian Pasta Salad

2 Boxes Simply Salad Classic
1 c carrots
1 c broccoli
1 medium shallot
1 c Italian Dressing
3/4 c Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta just shy of the time as directed on box

Chop veggies into bite size pieces

Cool the pasta down with cold water and ice cubes.  Drain thoroughly.

Mix the noodles, veggies and seasoning packet together.

Add the Italian dressing and cheese.

Let sit over night.  Check in the AM to see if additional dressing is needed.

Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Recipe straight from Mrs. Schwartz's kitchen.

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