Summer is finally here (work with me on this, I know its patchy to say the least), and that means for many of us the compulsory family BBQs and parties, which brings along with it the obligation to turn up with a dish of something hopefully home-made and delicious to share.
My standard offering is a pasta salad, they are generally universally liked, easy to make and filling.
Here I share some of the best on the web I have found and a couple of my own variations…
Feta, Rocket and Olive Pasta Salad
I love feta cheese with an unabashed and undying passion, and so this salad, which I found and tested for this article is going tobecome a firm favourite, it is fairly light on ingredients, and as it is oil rather than cream or mayonnaise based it is light in taste and texture.
Healthy and fresh, I loved it, if you can with feta cheese always buy the real deal made with sheep's milk, the taste really is better. Perfect as part of a picnic, and pretty impressively healthy looking if you decide to take it along as your offering for the salad buffet!
The Best Pasta Salad
I found this recipe a while ago, when hunting for something new to take to a party, and I have made it about four times since then. The claim of “the Best Pasta Salad” is a big one, but not too far off the mark, fresh and tasty and the kind of recipe youc an easily double and make a vat of!
As with most good salads, the ingredient list is fairly small, which makes it easier on the purse. I have added quartered hard boiled eggs on the top with more black olives to make it a more a substantial dish. With some fresh crusty white bread this makes a great warm evening supper dish, the bread mopping up the flavourful olive oil.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Tuna pasta salads are one of the most popular variations, many of us having knocked one up at some point! The ingredients aregenerally fairly easy to come by and tinned tuna so easy to use. This recipe, which I found and tested for this article is lovely, simple and tasty, with olives adding a salty kick, fresh basil and lemon juice make the salad taste deliciously fresh and healthy. This salad will definitely be made again!
Sausage Pasta Salad
Over the years of throwing things together to take along for others to enjoy, this pasta salad has by far topped the lot!! A recipe which is my standard for the bring along to family do’s and parties where a dish of grub is essential. It has evolved over timeand can include any kind of veggies or meat. This is the version I made recently for a very rainy family barbecue!
- 250g of pasta (dried weight)
- 6 smoked frankfurter sausages
- 3 bell peppers (any colours you like!)
- 1 large onion
- 15 (about) cherry tomatoes
- 1 – 5 garlic gloves (depending on your love or not of the stuff!)
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (not the end of the world if you don’t have – worst case scenario a good shake of mixed dried herbs will add flavour)
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- at least 5 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- a decent handful of fresh basil
- salt & pepper to season
Chop the peppers and onions into chunks – make them slightly smaller than you would do if just doing roasted veggies (seepicture). Peel your garlic gloves and slice each into about 3 pieces.
In a roasting tin slosh in some olive oil and then add the peppers, onion and garlic. Slice half your tomatoes in half and add them, pop the rest in whole. Add the sprigs of thyme, balsamic vinegar and more olive oil, finally, season with salt and pepper and take a large spoon and give it all a good mix up in the tin to coat all the veggies with oil and vinegar. Pop in a good and hot preheated over for about 25 minutes, checking and shaking a couple of times. They are ready when they just start to caramelise on the edges and are soft and well cooked.
While the veggies are roasting, place your pasta into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook until the pasta is cooked but not horribly soft.
Heat up a grill pan (just use a frying pan if you have no grill pan), add in a little olive oil, pop in the frankfurters and cook for about 5 minutes until the sausages have some colour (make sure you buy the ones ready to eat). Slice them up into bite size pieces.
Whilst the veggies are still hot and the pasta still warm (stops it sticking) combine the two, in a large bowl including all the oil and flavours from the roasting tin, but remembering to remove the woody thyme sprigs. Add in the sausages and the basil ripped into pieces (or sliced with scissors as I do as I cant be doing with the nonsense about not chopping basil).
Pop in the fridge and eat cold!! I promise its a winner.
The sausages can be replaced with chicken or bacon (or both is a bit special!), or omitted entirely. Add different veggies and some chilli for a yummy kick.
Easiest Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad
Easy peasy pasta salad, takes no time and very little effort (the picture shows it half chomped as I forgot to take a pic and once the whistle went it went in minutes!).
- About 250g of pasta (dried weight – you choose the shape!)
- Two large cooked chicken breasts (I roast a chicken, so I can add lots of flavour and garlic, but ready bought cookedchicken breasts will do just fine) cut into large chunks
- 5 rashers of back bacon – grilled and sliced up
- One small tin of sweetcorn drained (if possible with no sugar or salt added)
- Good handful of fresh basil ripped or shredded
- About 5 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- Two teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Couldn’t be simpler!
Cook the pasta and drain, stir through the olive oil to stop it sticking, and season with salt and pepper.
Once the pasta is cool add the chicken, bacon, sweetcorn and basil, stir well and add the mayonnaise, stir the mayonnaise through and….voilà its done!