Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pasta Salad to the Rescue

So last week I talked about party planning, and told you about my son's upcoming graduation party. The barbeque came out perfect, the beans were delish, but I still needed something to round out the menu.

Wandering the aisles of my local supercenter, inspiration hit--pasta salad! I haven't made it in forever, but it's so easy and doesn't take much time at all.

Pasta salad it is.

So I start with some pasta. You decide which kind you like. I tend to gravitate toward the rotini, you know, the corkscrew-looking variety. Sauce likes to cling to those little crevices. But for pasta salad, I like a little color, so Wacky Mac it is.
Wacky Mac comes with all kinds of shapes and colors that just make the salad fun. And since I'm feeding a crowd, I'd better use two packages.

I cook the pasta per the package directions, the low end of the cooking time, because you want the pasta al dente.

Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Now you can get as creative as you like. I kept things simple since people can be picky. I added some sliced green onions, some sliced black olives, some broccoli florets cut real small, and then the thing that takes this salad from ho-hum to vavoom!

Imitation crab flakes turn an ordinary pasta salad into an extraordinary one!
Just open the package, give the meat a rough chop, and toss it in. Now add some zesty Italian salad dressing, maybe a little salt and pepper, and voila! The perfect side dish to round out the buffet.
Of course, I forgot to take pix of said buffet :(  But as I promised Virginia last week, I will have pictures of this coming weekend's bridal shower.
Do you have a favorite pasta salad? Or a side dish that's easy peasy?


  1. Now that's MY kind of pasta salad...but only for me.

    I have one son who likes plain old plain old: macaroni, shredded cheddar cheese, peas, onions and mayo.

    And that's okay occasionally.

    But if I want anything fancier, I have to make a small batch or take it to a covered dish dinner...

    Thanks for the recipe, Mindy!

    1. Ah, traditional macaroni salad. So when did cuisine shift from macaroni salad to pasta salad? Someone must've decided to get fancy.

      Speaking of fancy, Jan, this would make the perfect thing to take to a potluck. Easy and plenty to go around.

  2. Mindy, aren't the colored pastas fun???? My family won't eat them, the bunch of slackers, but I love 'em!

    I've never done the crab in pasta salad. I have never even thought it!!! Mindy, what a wonderful brainstorm this is! I like shrimp and pasta... Well, shoot, I like shrimp and anything but I never thought of the imitation crabmeat.


    This has me smiling, right up there with graduations and weddings, dear girl!

    1. Ruthy, we had a friend who owned a restaurant/catering company and everyone raved about their pasta salad. She's the one who told me about the imitation crab. And I make it exactly like she did. I figure if it ain't broke, don't fix it:-)

      You mean even those grandkids don't like the fun shapes and colors?

  3. I love easy. And I have discovered rice pastas that work well in pasta salad. But I was raised on Miracle Whip rather than mayo so it is a constant struggle in our household to decide what to use!

    Peace and continued pre-wedding blessings, Julie

    1. Julie, I was raised on Miracle Whip, too. As a kid, I didn't like mayo, so my parents bought the MW. But somehow, along the way, I grew to like mayo. Now we buy Duke's. :)

    2. Julie, maybe it 's the Miracle Whip/salad dressing that differentiates macaroni and pasta salad. My recipe isn't creamy, though, since I just use plain old Italian dressing.

      Now if we're talking sandwiches, I'm a mayo girl. I used to like Miracle Whip, but have decided it's too sweet. Now watch, I'll try some (haven't had it in forever) and want to switch:)

  4. This sounds delish! We love the imitation crab meat. I eat it on salads and pasta sometimes. But I especially love it dipped in melted butter. :)

    1. Missy, almost anything is better dipped in melted butter:D

  5. Our go-to summer pasta salad is: tri-color rotini (like the Wacky Mac, although we've never bought that), tuna fish, Miracle Whip. Mix all together and refrigerate (unless we forgot to make it earlier in the day). Everyone dishes out their own, then adds shredded cheddar cheese and Italian dressing. If we have tomatoes, I will chop one up and add that to my salad, too. Yummy...making me hungry! It's almost lunchtime.

    We aren't seafood eaters, so the crab/shrimp/whatever will have to stay away. ;-)

    Off to find food now... Blessings!

    1. Melanie, that sounds good to me, too!

    2. I love it, Melanie. Build your own pasta salad. What a great idea for a party. Have the basic in a big bowl and then line up all the possibilities. Perfect for a summer party.