Peppy Pasta Salads

Peppy Pasta Salads
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Pasta Salads are perfect for summer. They are fast cooking, easy to assemble and can be served inside or outside. Be sure to use the freshest ingredients possible when preparing for the best results. You can use them as side dishes, or main dishes. If using as an the entree, serve with fresh bread, rolls or muffins and fresh fruit. They are also one of the best picnic foods because they store so well in plastic containers or resealable plastic bags. For a simple buffet choose two or three of these salads, fresh fruit, iced tea and a dessert.

Cilantro Tomato Pasta Salad

1 cucumber
1 cup ripe red tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, fresh
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup dry small shell pasta, cooked and drained

Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to gently scrape away the seeds. Cut in half again lengthwise and dice the cucumber. Place cucumber, tomato, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl with pasta Toss gently. Transfer to a serving bowl; chill at least 15 minutes before serving.

Bean and Pasta Salad

2 cups cut green beans
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans
2 cup cooked pasta, macaroni or shells
2 T. red onion (minced)
1 cup Italian salad dressing

Toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Refrigerate several hours. Toss right before serving.

Garden Pasta Salad

2 cups pasta of your choice
1 cup Italian or Caesar dressing
1 cup cubed mozzarella or provolone cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mushrooms
1/2 red onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped smoked ham
1 firm fresh tomato

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside. Cube the ham into medium size cubes. Chop the green pepper. Mushrooms need to be rinsed if canned, or washed and sliced if fresh. Seed and chop the tomato. The red onion should be sliced then cut in half again for smaller pieces. The cheese should be cubed very small. Place the vegetables and meat in a bowl with the pasta, add both cheeses, pour the dressing over and gently mix with a wooden spoon.

Note: If you ask at the deli counter they will give you a section of ham by weight, instead of slices. This recipe should take only about 1/2 pound. You can then chop it at home. You may substitute chicken, turkey or pepperoni.

Shrimp Macaroni Salad

3/4 pound cooked, cleaned medium shrimp
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup French dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp. grated onion
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook macaroni according to directions, drain. Combine macaroni and other ingredients; toss gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours. Serve cold.

Shrimp Pasta Salad

1 pound cooked, shelled and cleaned shrimp
2 cups fresh shelled peas
3/4 cup macaroni or small pasta shells
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dill weed
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/4 cup pickle relish
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 cup sliced celery

Chill shrimp. Cook peas until barely tender. Pour into colander; cool. Cook pasta according to directions, rinse with cold water and drain. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise,lemon,salt and dill. Mix all ingredients gently and chill. Makes 6 servings.

Italian Rotini Salad

1/2 of a one pound package of Rotini Pasta
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup diced pepperoni
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 large green onions, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook Rotini according to directions, rinse and drain. Combine Rotini, mushrooms,pepperoni, cheese, and green onions. Blend oil, vinegar and spices. Toss dressing with salad. Serve immediately or chill. Makes 6-8 servings.

Tuna Pasta

1 large russet potato
8 ounces green beans
1 cup canned chicken broth
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh
1 can solid white tuna (12 ounces) in water.
8 sprigs Italian parsley
1 pound cooked and drained pasta (spaghetti, rigatoni etc.)
1 medium sized lemon
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup black olives (optional)

Rinse potato and green beans briefly in a colander. Cut potato into small cubes. Snap beans into 2 inch lengths and discard stems. Put vegetables into a large skillet with broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 8 minutes until tender. While vegetables simmer, drain tuna and flake into a medium-sized bowl. Coarsely chop parley and add to tuna. Add the simmered vegetables and olives (if using) and broth from pan. To serve: toss pasta with tuna mixture. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice over pasta and toss again. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 5. Serve warm or chill and serve cold.

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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