Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I’ve learned}

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great dish to bring to a party, family get-together or for summer entertaining. It makes a great side, and if you are like me, you can make a meal out of it. It’s also so versatile, that you can add just about anything to it. However, for years…I just couldn’t get it right. After much trial and error, I have come up with what I think is the Perfect Pasta Salad!

Perfect Pasta Salad Bowl EAH

 

  • First tip, it’s important to cook your pasta al dente (it should say on the box how many minutes this is, I like to use rotini pasta and it’s usually 7 minutes). This will prevent the pasta from getting too mushy/soggy because the pasta will soak up some of the dressing as it sits.
  • Second, and this is where I often went wrong, you need equal amounts of pasta to vegetables/add-ins. I like to chop my main veggies fairly uniform (“bite” size), like cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. My other ingredients that I use less of because of the strong flavor, such as onions and peppers, are chopped smaller. By add-ins, I am talking about not only vegetables, but also cheese, meats (pepperoni, ham, chicken), etc.
  • Third,  the dressing…everyone has their favorite and how much they like, but too much or too little can turn your perfect pasta salad into a “ehhh, it’s okay” pasta salad. My rule of thumb is 4:4:14 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups veggies/add-ins, 1 cup dressing. Even when I make a large batch for a cook-out or party, I stick with my ratios. See, math does come in handy sometimes! The pasta and veggies will soak up some of the dressing, so if you make this the night before, you may need to add a little more dressing the next day. This is a good starting point, and you can adjust to suit your taste buds.
  • Finally, and this is just a suggestion because they are not always readily available, but I highly recommend adding fresh herbs. My favorites to use are basil or cilantro.

Pasta Salad Ingredients EAH

I am particularly fond of the above ingredients for my pasta salad. However, I usually add peppers and I always add some kind of cheese, which somehow did not make the picture! I usually use feta, but feel free to add whatever is your favorite.

Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I've learned}
This pasta salad is the perfect side or light meal. Great for parties, cookouts, and more.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz dry pasta (will yield about 4 cups when cooked)
  • 4 cups desired vegetables/add-ins (such as cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, fresh herbs, cheese)
  • 1 cup dressing (such as House Italian, Oil & Vinegar, etc.)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Place drained pasta in a large bowl, adding vegetables and desired add-ins.
  3. Add dressing, salt, pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Place in fridge to chill or serve immediately.

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Kim is a contributing writer for Eat at Home and author of food & family blog, Makin’ it Mo’Betta. She blogs about her adventures in the kitchen, incorporating life as mom to teen and tween girls, as well as a young son with nut allergies, and wife to a diabetic husband. Life is never dull!

‘Cheater’ Chili – for hot dogs and more! – 75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Meals EatAtHomeCooks

 

We love a good cheater recipe around here!  Kim has a fantastically easy version of Chili for hot dogs.  You’re going to love this recipe.  Bonus: there are 3 different methods for cooking it.  Check out the notes on the recipe and choose what works for you.
Hot dog - All the way
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to hot dog toppings. For me, I want a grilled hot dog, loaded with chili, onions, mustard, ketchup, and slaw….yummmm!  With grilling season under way, and lots of cook outs planned for July 4th, I wanted to share this super simple chili recipe I recently made. You only need THREE ingredients…a couple of pantry staples and ground beef…that’s it!
Cheater Chili EAH
I used one can of Hunt’s Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili and one can of Manwich Sauce (for Sloppy Joes). My original intent was to use this as a base, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn’t need to add anything but the ground beef! It had a great flavor, and was perfect for our hot dogs! I received lots of compliments on it too.  I also think this could easily be made in the slow cooker, but someone would need to be available to give it a stir once in a while to break up the meat.

‘Cheater’ Chili – for hot dogs and more!
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce seasoned for chili
  • 1 (15 oz) can Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce- original
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef in large pot.
  2. Rinse under hot water to remove grease and then return meat to pot or place in crockpot.
  3. Add tomato sauce, Manwich and cayenne pepper to meat.
  4. Heat on medium high heat until boiling. Or cook in slow cooker on low for 5 -7 hours.

If you want a little spicy kick to your chili, you could add in some cayenne pepper! I made this chili the night before my cookout, and heated it up in my crock pot the day of. This also kept the chili nice and warm without tying up my stove top.
How do you eat your hot dogs?!
KimM is a contributing writer for Eat at Home. She has three children, ages 12, 10 and 5; 2 fur babies, and blogs about her kitchen adventures at Makin’ it Mo’Betta. You can also follow on PinterestFacebook and Twitter.

Memorial Day Eats

Barbeque Pepper Jack Chicken done

Summer starts this weekend.  Pools open.  Lucky kids and teachers are already out of school.  It’s time to head outside, get together with friends and fire up the grill.

If you need some ideas for recipes to cook this weekend, here’s a list to get you started:

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