Pasta Salad


Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

Pasta salad is our favorite comfort food.  Over the years I have made it about a zillion different ways and they were all yummy. To make pasta salad, you have to begin with pasta; Spiral pasta (fusilli) works well, as do bow-ties (farfalle), but this corkscrew pasta (cavatappi) caught my eye at the store so that is what I’ll be using this time. It is really important to only cook the pasta until it is just al dente.  There is nothing worse than mushy pasta in a pasta salad or just mushy pasta in general.

I add the cheeses in last, along with delicate things like the marinated artichokes. In the picture above I have just added the pasta to the meat and veggies.  Today’s pasta salad was an homage to an antipasto platter ( hard salami, mozzarella cheese, black olives, red peppers, marinated artichokes, etc.), but it is equally good made with grilled chicken and broccoli, ham chunks and pepper jack cheese, or tuna with cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes.  The sky is the limit.  Plus, pasta salad is a great meal for the hot, hot, dog days of summer.  It can be prepared early (before it is too hot) and refrigerated.   If you add enough goodies it becomes a one dish meal, nice and easy for dinner.  Enjoy!




1 pound pasta of choice

veggies of choice;

artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, beans, mushrooms, olives (all kinds), onions (every type), fresh peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes (especially the grape and cherry tomatoes, halved), zucchini…

protein of choice;

grilled, fried, canned, baked, or leftover rotisserie chicken/ chunks of ham/ deli cold cuts (like hard salami), sliced/ tuna, crab, lobster, or other fish, flaked/leftovers of any kind-except maybe roast beef

cheese of choice;

Asiago, Cheddar, co-jack, pepper jack, swiss, mozzarella, etc.

Italian dressing of choice (we normally use Kraft Zesty Italian, but the marinated artichokes were in their own dressing and I just used it)

Parmesan cheese




1. Cook the pasta al dente, drain, rinse it if you want, and cool.


2. Chop all veggies, protein, and cheese.  Use your imagination to chop things in an interesting and appetizing way and not all the same (matchstick, slices, julienne, chunks, ,etc.)


3. Put the chopped goodies in a big bowl, add the cooled pasta.  Add just enough dressing to keep the ingredients from sticking together.  Don’t go overboard, you don’t want your pasta salad floating in dressing.

4. Add parmesan cheese.  Start with about 1/2 cup and go from there ( I was a little heavy-handed with the parmesan cheese today).

5. Mix everything together and transfer mixture into a container for the fridge, or stand at the foot of the stairs and yell, “come and get it”

Tuna and White Bean Salad


Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

It takes about five minutes to put this salad together and it does taste really yummy.  The tuna, beans and bread make it a very filling meal, while the lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes, and parsley are so nice and fresh tasting.  Enjoy!


12 oz. tuna, packed in water

15.5 oz can Cannellini beans, drained

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half

salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons capers

3 cloves raw garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

about 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 slices thick bread, toasted



1. In a large bowl, combine tuna, beans, tomato halves, salt and pepper, capers, and garlic.  Stir gently to mix, being careful to leave tuna in large clumps.

2. Pour olive oil and lemon juice over salad.  Combine gently to moisten salad,  add fresh parsley and mix.

3. Serve salad with thick chunks of toasted bread.

Jerri’s Chicken Salad


Recipe courtesy of Jerri Parker

My sister Jerri is a great cook; She can walk through a kitchen, grab random stuff along the way from the fridge and pantry, and put it together almost effortlessly into a wonderful meal (she’s also a great pie baker).  I called her today and this is what she was making for dinner.  It didn’t occur to me to add grapes and nuts to chicken salad, but Mark loves it.  I like to use sandwich pocket bread for this salad.  I place lettuce leaves inside the bread to act as a barrier against the moist chicken salad, and also to give the sandwich more crunch. My sister also suggests that it can be served with crackers and celery sticks in place of the bread.  Either way, this is a nice variation on an old classic and a wonderful meal to serve when you’re trying to beat the heat.  Enjoy!



4 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and cubed or torn into bite-sized pieces

25 grapes, either green or red (must be seedless), cut in half

1/3 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts work the best), chopped

2 Tablespoons onion, diced

celery seed, to taste (1 used 5 good shakes)

salt and pepper

slightly less than 1/2 cup mayo or Miracle Whip

2 Tablespoons mustard

hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional)




1. Shred or chop the chicken and place in a large bowl.  Add the grapes, nuts, onion and celery seed, and diced hard-boiled eggs.  Look at your combination in the bowl…does it need more of anything?


2. After you are happy with the quantities of your ingredients, add enough mayo to hold it all together and a little dab of mustard to give it some zing.  Salt and pepper it to your taste and serve in pocket bread, or in a bowl with crackers and some celery sticks.


Baby Spinach and Tortellini Salad


Salad recipe courtesy of

Taste of Home’s 2004 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes

Taste of Home Books, ©2004 Reiman Media Group, Inc., Wisc.

Vinaigrette recipe courtesy of CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters

published by Sterling Epicure, NY, NY

This salad is so good!  At first you may be thinking…fruit in a vegetable salad?  Believe me, the taste is incredible.  My friend, Carol, made this wonderful salad at one of our craft/sew/eat/talk, get-togethers (emphasis on talking and eating).  The recipe suggests a poppy seed dressing, but I really like Pomegranate Vinaigrette with it.  I’ve included both recipes.

This salad is one of those recipes that can easily be stretched (add more spinach), or adapted to your family’s preferences (add more tortellini).  Start with the amount of spinach needed for the servings you wish to make, using roughly 2 cups of spinach per person, and go from there.  If you’re not a fan of strawberries, try canned mandarin oranges instead.  Enjoy!

Salad Ingredients

baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
cheese tortellini, cooked and cooled
strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
blueberries, washed and drained
fresh grated parmesan cheese


Vinaigrette Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon zesty honey mustard (I used Dijon mustard and added a drop of honey)
sea salt


Spinach and Tortellini Salad Directions


1. Cook tortellini, drain and allow to cool.  Place spinach leaves in a large bowl.



2. Add strawberries (or mandarin oranges) and blueberries.  Grate fresh parmesan over the salad.  Add cooled tortellini to salad and gently mix all the ingredients.  Serve with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.


Pomegranate Vinaigrette Directions


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except salt.  Season to taste with the salt.  Vinaigrette will keep refrigerated for 1 week.




Pan-Fried Cheese, Tomato, and Onion Sandwich


Recipes courtesy of Food, by Mary McCartney

Published by Sterling Epicure, 387 Park Avenue South, New York, N.Y. 10016

This is a beautiful vegetarian cookbook.  Mary McCartney is a photographer and her images of farm stands and fields in this book are so sweet and nostalgic. I’m including the recipe for the sandwich as well as the salad that I made for lunch.  I used an aged sharp cheddar for the sandwich and it just melted in our mouths.  Enjoy!

Sandwich Ingredients

2 slices sandwich bread
1 Tablespoon butter
6 slices cheese, such as sharp Cheddar, goat Cheddar, or Gouda
2 thin slices red onion
4 thin slices ripe tomato
fresh ground black pepper

Salad Ingredients

mixed greens (I used the 50/50 mix; baby spinach and spring greens)
Blue cheese, cubed or crumbled
red grapes, halved
walnuts, broken and lightly toasted


Sandwich Directions


1. Butter both slices of bread and lay one of them, butter-side down on a chopping board.



2. Lay the cheese on one of the slices of bread (unbuttered side), then top with onion, tomato, and black pepper.  Place the second piece of bread, butter-side up, on top.




3. Heat a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, place the sandwich in the frying pan.  Fry on one side until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes, occasionally pushing down the sandwich to help melt the cheese.  Flip the sandwich over and fry on the other side until golden brown and the cheese has melted.




4. Remove from pan and slice diagonally.




 Salad Directions

1. Place greens on serving plate.  Sprinkle Blue cheese, red grape halves, and toasted walnuts over the greens.

Green Bean, Potato, and Red Onion Salad


Recipe courtesy of Entertaining with the Sopranos

by Allen Rucker and Michele Scicolone 

published by Warner Books

I really thought that a book entitled, ” Entertaining with the Sopranos”, would be a piece of fluff with a lot of cast pictures.  There are a lot of cast pictures, but the recipe content is phenomenal.  I made this salad, Little Chicken Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Antipasto Platter, Insalata Caprese, and Bow Ties with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella out of this book as part of our daughter Danielle’s Confirmation dinner.  This is a great salad to make in the summer when green beans are plentiful.  Make it in the morning, before it gets hot, and then it can marinate in the fridge all day. It is also nice for picnics because you don’t have to worry about mayo.  You’ll notice that my salad looks a little different from the recipe, I didn’t feel like making a trip to the grocery store.  This salad really is better though with a red onion and capers, and a glass of Chardonnay.   Enjoy!


1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed


4-6 medium Yukon Gold or red-skin potatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

freshly ground pepper

2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced



1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the green beans and salt to taste.  Cook until the beans are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and cool them under cold running water (I cool them in an ice bath).  Drain and pat dry.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

2. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil.  Add the potatoes and salt to taste.  Cook potatoes for about 20 minutes, check with a fork for doneness.  Drain and let cool.  Peel potatoes (optional), and cut into cubes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste ( I usually add about 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic).  Stir in the capers.  Add the green beans, potatoes, and onions and toss well.  Serve at room temperature.  This salad is equally good made using Italian dressing.

Spring Greens with Orange-Sesame Dressing





adapted from Spring Greens with Orange Curry Dressing @




1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sesame oil

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

juice from 1 orange

1 clove garlic, minced

ginger, to taste

wasabi (optional)

sugar, to taste

1. Whisk everything together.  The green wasabi will give it a good kick, if you like wasabi, otherwise it is really good without wasabi, too.  Start with 1 teaspoon sugar and taste it.  I sprinkled a small amount of ground ginger in the mix, less than a teaspoon.  This will make enough dressing for several salads.  Store leftovers in the fridge.



1/2 head escarole, washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces

1/2 head romaine, washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces- save the tips to use around the perimeter of the serving dish.

1/2 head red boston butter lettuce, washed, dried and torn into slightly big bite-sized pieces

spinach leaves, washed and dried (wash well as spinach leaves tend to be sandy).  Save the prettiest leaves to use around the perimeter of the serving dish.

orange segments- I used 1/2 a can mandarin oranges

1/4 red onion, sliced thin ( I forgot to buy one so I used green onions- they taste good, but the red onion looks a lot nicer in the salad).

3 oz. cheese, cubed- I used Monterey Jack because we had it here, use what your family likes.

about 1/2 c. walnuts, toasted (spread nuts on a baking sheet, bake at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes, they will smell toasty.  Let cool before using).

sesame seeds


1. Using a large serving platter, place spinach leaves and romaine tips around edge in an alternating pattern.  Place torn greens and spinach leaves on platter.  Place orange segments on greens.  Sprinkle on onions, cheese, nuts and sesame seeds.