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.

P.S. Want to save $60 and 2 hours each week on grocery shopping? Click herehttp://eatathomecooks.com/MealPlans429

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!

What to Serve with Fried Rice and Stir Fry

What to serve with fried rice and stir fry

 

We’ve talked about the basics of choosing side dishes.  And last week we talked about side dish options for pot pies and other casseroles.

Today, we’re taking on fried rice and stir fry.

These dishes can be tough to pair with a side dish.  Honestly, I often skip other sides and just leave it with rice with the stir fry.  Or fried rice alone.

But there are times when you’d really like to have something else to round out the meal.  Here are a few ideas:

Vegetables

Try steamed or roasted broccoli, brussels sprouts, or green beans.  Or do a quick stir fry of zucchini, onions, mushrooms, carrots etc.  Season with garlic and soy sauce.

Fruit

Fresh cut oranges or pineapple can serve as a side/dessert.  The citrus sweet flavor is a nice opposite for the main dish.  Canteloupe in season is also really good with Asian main dishes.

Egg rolls, dumplings or spring rolls

This one is pretty obvious and not quite as high in nutrition either.  But they’re so good!

Salad

Green salad with Asian Vinaigrette, Asian Ginger Dressing, or Asian Sesame Dressing.  Asian Broccoli Salad, Hawaiian Cole Slaw or Tropical Salad would be good too.

The Art of the Side Dish – What Goes With…

Art of the Side Dish

Side dishes are my dinner downfall. Only because I have a habit of forgetting about them when I’m prepping dinner.

I’ve written about easy side dish ideas a couple of times.

But how do you know what sides pair well with different main dishes? Some things are easy – Spaghetti and salad. Meat, vegetable, roll.

There are other recipes that present more of a challenge. Sides to go with stir-fry. Moving beyond chips and salsa with a Mexican meal. What to serve with potpie and other all-inclusive casseroles.

We’ll be tackling some of these in future posts, but today I want to share a few things I keep in mind when planning the meals for Weekly Meal Plans.

A good side/main dish pairing will do a few things for your meal:   [Read more…]

The Best Ever Roasted Butternut Squash or Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash or Sweet Potatoes

 

Every time I make this easy side dish I think I’m going to take photos to share here.

And almost every time, I forget.  Or I’m in a hurry.  Or it’s completely dark outside and I don’t want to set up my photography lights.

Finally, I managed to snap a photo.  It’s not great, but it does give me a reason to share this recipe with you.

Really it’s just method more than recipe though.  It’s an easier version of Butternut Squash Skillet, which I love.

But instead of starting it in the skillet, along with onion and garlic, I just toss the cubed squash with olive oil, several shakes of cinnamon, ginger,thyme, salt and pepper.

Then it gets poured onto a baking sheet and popped in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

The flavor is fantastic!  And it works equally well with sweet potatoes too.

10 Slow Cooker Side Dish Recipes

Easy Side Dishes – Beyond Steamed Veggies – Rounding out 15 Minute Meals

I have a tendency to focus on the main dish and forget the sides.  Until we’re nearly ready to sit down.  And then it’s time to quick thrown some veggies in a pan to steam or pull together a salad.

32 Simple Side Dish Ideas

 

This is a post I wrote last year with side dish ideas that go beyond steamed veggies.

These are all easy ideas though.  Some have a simple recipe. Others don’t require a recipe at all.

All of them will help round out your weeknight meals, but still keep it fast.

Click here to see 32 Easy Side Dish Ideas.

Think simple for sides.  Here are a few other ideas that work well:

  • Raw veggies – carrots, celery, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers etc.
  • Fruit (especially good with breakfast for dinner meals)
  • Cheese slices (with soup)
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn – healthier than chips, but great with sandwiches

What are your go-to quick side dishes?

Easy Butternut Squash Skillet – My New Favorite Side Dish

butternut squash skillet

 

I could eat and eat and eat this butternut squash skillet.  It is so good!

Our church had a potluck dinner before Christmas where someone brought a sweet potato dish that was out of this world.  I searched for the cook and finally found that the very talented Lisa had brought it.  She emailed me the recipe she used as inspiration.

I took the ideas and decided to use butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes.  I also made mine a one-dish recipe by using an oven proof skillet.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:   [Read more…]

Garlic Cream Cheese Smashed Potatoes – 2 Ingredients!

I’ve made these potatoes twice now.  They are so simple, but they taste like you’ve really put in a lot of effort.  I love a good cheat!

This is more method than recipe, but I’ll add it in Ziplist below.  I’ve made this with about 1 lb. of potatoes and half a container of Philly Cooking Creme.  I thought that was a perfect amount of creaminess.  I’ve also made it with 3 lbs. potatoes and a whole container of Cooking Creme.  I thought that was a little dry, but Jim liked it better that way.

So, do what suits you and your family.  If you want to up the creaminess, but don’t want to use more cream cheese just add a splash of milk.

Here’s what you’ll need:  [Read more…]

Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole

The credit for this recipe goes entirely to my sister.  She knows how to kick things up a notch or three.

This variation on Hashbrown Casserole includes peppers, bacon, extra sour cream and french fried onions on top.  It may not win any nutrition awards, but I guarantee if you take it to a potluck your dish will come home empty.

Here’s what you’ll need (add a container of french fried onion topping that didn’t make it into the photo):   [Read more…]

Skillet Apple Crisp – Done in 20 Minutes!

We were driving home from church on Sunday and I was thinking about the egg and ham sandwiches I’d planned to make when I realized that Apple Crisp would be an excellent side dish.

I know Apple Crisp is considered a dessert, but if you eat it with your meal instead of after, it’s a side dish.  A sweet, cinnamon spiced side dish.

The only problem is that Apple Crisp takes a while to bake.  But you can speed the whole process up by cooking the apples on the stove top.   [Read more…]

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software