i used to think of pasta salad as being a side dish. but, if you make enough of it, it makes a pretty great meal. especially if you load it up with fresh veggies, throw in some tuna - you have a well-rounded meal in one dish. one dish that you can make ahead of time, like when your kids are napping, thus avoiding the pre-dinner meltdown that happens anytime that you humungous, food loving child sees you preparing something. and i love the dressing. it's a good change from just mayo or italian dressing. it's got a nice mix of flavors, but it isn't too crazy, so kids will like it. at least mine do. and that's saying something.
so here you go. it's so simple. what you need is:
*one box of pasta (i use whole wheat, but you don't have to)
*raw veggies of your choice. tonight, i used broccoli, celery, carrots, orange peppers, grape tomatoes, and olives. and yes, i know olives are not a raw veggie. other veggies you could use would be red and green peppers, cauliflower, green onions, or red onions.
*1/2 cup of may
*1/4 cup of ranch dressing
*3 T of milk
*2 T red wine vinigar
*1 T minced dried onion
*1/2 t seasoned salt
*1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*1/4 teaspoon black pepper
*1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
*1/4 teaspoon (or a little squirt) mustard
cook the pasta. while it is cooking, chop the veggies. i like them to be really small, but you could use big chunks that's how you like it. i use about equal parts veggies to cooked noodles. i know - this is a very precise, helpful recipe, huh?
when you're done chopping, mix up the dressing. just put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix it up. pretty simple.
once the pasta is cooked, drain it and rinse it with cold water. you want to cool it down quite a bit before adding the veggies so that they don't cook at all. one of the best things about this dish is the contrast between the crunchy veggies and the soft noodles.
add the dressing to the noodles, mix it all around, until they are all nice and coated. at this point, i take some of the noodles out for my kids. i'm not that mom. you know, the one that makes two different dinners every night. but, i've tried giving them this before and they are not fans of the raw veggies and dinner was a disaster. which i understand. it's hard to chew, especially when you don't have all of your teeth. so whole wheat noodles with a little dressing and a few olives sprinkled it, with a side of cooked green beans isn't a bad meal. and it is a way that i can easily make them dinner that is still good for them without making a whole other meal. we still get to eat as a family and they still eat (sort of) what jason and i are eating.
so once i take out their noodles, i add all the veggies to the noodles and dressing and mix it all together. throw it in the fridge and wait for dinner time. i add some tuna to jason's, but not mine. and there you have a complete meal in one dish - veggies, grains, protein, and yumminess (which is definitely an essential ingredient to a well-balanced meal).