‘Tis once again the season for outdoor gatherings. As the sunsets linger and the warm evening air beckons us to sit around fires, summer get-togethers start to pile up. If you are like me, you enjoy getting together to share good times and good food. But, if you are indeed like me, sometimes your best intentions fall short. Sure, you said you were going to make those delicious cookies, but then you remembered that it takes ages to get them right, and vigilance is necessary to avoid setting off the fire alarm, making a mountain of dishes, or heating up an already uncomfortably warm house. Well, no need to worry anymore! I’m here to share my secret tomaking somes homemade and delicious for a get-together and still having the energy to join the party afterwards!
I present the signature “I’m Lazy Pasta Salad.” It’s great for indoor and outdoor events and helps to fill a niche between too many desserts and a whole ton of meat. I’ve prepared two varieties, and you can customize them as you see fit without much trouble, depending on your taste!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: Lots of people (a backyard full)
+ 1 Box pasta (I use bowtie or fuscilli, but penne would work as well)
+ 1 Bottle salad dressing (really up to you, I’ve gone with classic Caesar and Greek Feta)
+ Vegetables (anything goes, crunch is nice though, and the colour really brightens it up). I’ve decided on sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and some green onions. You could definitely also use a purple onion if it’s to your taste.
+ Cheese (again, to your taste, I prefer sharper harder cheeses, or really salty brine cheeses. I paired the Parmesan/Asiago mix with the Caesar and the brined feta with the Greek)
+ Dash of salt
+ Some extra virgin olive oil
+Optional: Black Olives, and/or bacon bits. Of course, if you’re more organized and less lazy, you could also take the extra step of making your own dressing or picking up some specialty bacon and making your own bits. Again, this is really for everyone, at any experience or energy level in the kitchen.
1. Fill a large pot with water. Ignore everything on the side of the pasta box except for how long the pasta should cook.
2. Add some salt and olive oil to the water, you know you want to, it brings some flavour.
3. When the water reaches a boil, add in the entire box of pasta. Cook to al dente as per box instructions, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure it’s not getting too soft.
4. When done, empty the pasta into a colander and run through with cold water. Set aside to cool. You can pat it dry a little to avoid excess moisture in the next steps.
5. While the pasta cools, take your vegetables and give them a chop. I recommend larger pieces so that there is equal pasta to vegetable ratio when dishing up the salad. Again, any vegetables you want are fair game.
6. Set aside your veggies. When the pasta is fully cool, empty it into a large bowl, breaking it up gently if it has stuck together. Grab your chosen bottle of salad dressing and squeeze/pour/spoon a liberal amount onto the pasta. I started with about ¼ of the bottle. Once on top, pick up the bowl of pasta and give it a few gentle swirls/shakes to start getting the dressing to spread around, it shouldn’t take much but you’ll notice the noodles start to move more easily. Once you have this, grab a big spoon and start turning the pasta over, spreading out the dressing evenly.
7. Once your pasta appears to be coated in salad dressing, you can add your cheese. I recommend adding it a bit at a time and stirring it around, to be sure there is an even distribution throughout. You’ll know you have enough cheese when you look at the bowl and say “yeah, I can see that cheese, which looks good.”
8. To finish it off, I cut up some green onion ends, as they have a nice flavour and a great colour. Now all you have to do is pack it up, and get your butt out the door to the get together with your tasty contribution.
Option 1: Caesar
Option Two: Italian
Now it’s all up to you! Once these steps are accomplished, you can add in bacon bits or olives, change the type salad dressing or vegetables, or whatever else your heart desires. Pasta salad seems a little dry? Add more dressing. You see a noddle without some cheese adjacent to it? More cheese!
You may wonder: Did I add too much cheese? The answer to that question I, unequivocally, no. There is no such thing as too much cheese.