Creamy Pasta and Veggie Salad

Creamy Pasta and Veggie Salad -- A Pinch of Joy
Creamy Pasta and Veggie Salad -- A Pinch of Joy

Creamy Pasta and Veggie Salad makes a great dinner salad for cool summer eating. It’s also perfect for potlucks and family. However or whenever, this salad makes an appearance it is a well balanced blend of carbs, veggies and proteins.   It’s healthy and makes a big salad so it will serve a large number of people – or be a made ahead dinner salad a couple of times for three or four eaters. It’s also a nice change from mayo dressed salads and always disappears quickly.

I like for my ingredients to “even out” so there aren’t little bits of leftover ingredients setting around. Three cups of dry pasta is generally about a 16 ounce package. That’s what I use if the dry pasta measures out between 2 ¾ cups and 3 ¼ cups. Any less and the salad won’t have the pasta base needed to carry the other flavors and foods. Any more and the salad could end up dry and low on flavor. Half a small onion will come out to about ¼ a cup. We always have  raw veggies in the fridge so half a pepper or a few celery ribs is okay because that’s enough for another dish.  But if there is  a bit of anything left that won’t get used, just dice it up and add it to the salad.     I have also used packaged shredded carrots for salads. For this one, I buy a package of diced ham and a package of shredded cheese, to save time. This is one of the “flexible” dishes where you can substitute what you have on hand, adjust the quantities to suit and it will still be good. If it seems dry after refrigerating, stir in a couple of tablespoons of milk to moisten without changing the flavor.

Creamy Pasta and Veggie Salad
 
Author:
Recipe type: salad
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups dry pasta (shell, rotini, penne, farfalle)
  • ¼ cup onion diced
  • ¾ cup raw carrot, sliced or shredded
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces cubed ham
  • 8 ounce package frozen peas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 16 ounce container sour cream
  • ½ cup French dressing
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water.
  2. Dice vegetables.
  3. Mix sour cream, French dressing, seasoning in medium bowl.
  4. In large bowl, mix together pasta, vegetables, cheese, and ham. Fold in dressing.
  5. Cover and chill 2-4 hours before serving. Best if refrigerated overnight.

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Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad with red wine vinegar dressing

Grilled chicken and strawberry salad -- A Pinch of Joy

Grilled chicken and strawberry salad -- A Pinch of Joy
Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad is a springtime hit with berries fresh from the garden and fresh salad greens. Of course, you can make it any time of year with berries and greens from the grocery. Use your favorite salad greens. Leaf lettuce or Bibb lettuce from the garden, spring green mix, iceberg pieces, spinach, romaine. Or a mixture of any mild flavored green. Add a handful of chopped kale to each plate, if you like. Generally, a serving of salad is about one cup (pressed down) of fresh greens. Or, the number of servings in a 16 ounce bag of greens is often listed as six. This recipe will make 6 side salads or three generous dinner salads. The dinner salads are the choice at our house.

The dressing is the star of the show. And I don’t eat dressing on my salads!!! I’ll have ranch on the side occasionally, dipping my fork in the dressing before spearing a bite and that’s it! But this tangy, sweet, oniony concoction is delightful! I think you’ll really like it, too!

Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad with red wine vinegar dressing
 
Author:
Recipe type: salad
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Dressing
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup plus one tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Salad
  • 1 pound chicken breast, tenders, cutlets or fillets
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted if desired
  • 6 cups your favorite salad greens (or 16 ounces)
  • 1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
Instructions
  1. Grill chicken about 6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Remove from heat to cool.
  2. While chicken is grilling, prepare dressing. In blender combine olive oil, onion, mustard, salt and pepper. Process about 10 seconds to thoroughly mix seasonings and onion. Add red wine vinegar and pulse two to three times to mix in. Add one half the sugar and process 5 seconds. Add last half of sugar and process for 10 seconds or until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Slice strawberries and set aside.
  4. If desired, toast pecans by heating over medium high heat until fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Arrange salad greens on serving plate. Slice grilled chicken. Add chicken, strawberries and pecans to each serving plate.
  6. Drizzle with dressing to serve.


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Hot German Potato Salad

Hot German Potato Salad -- A Pinch of Joy
Hot German Potato Salad -- A Pinch of Joy

Donna was a guest at one of the two luncheons that took place on our deck last week. They were casual affairs of the potluck sort with the guests bringing a salad or dessert. Donna brought a classic hot German potato salad and was gracious enough to share the recipe she’d gotten from her sister in law via Better Homes and Garden cookbook. Donna said she’d used her mother’s recipe without the spices, until she tasted this combination of flavors. Finding out the recipe was easy to make was a bonus! German potato salad is traditionally served hot and will be perfect for the coming fall weather. Time tested and stamped approved!!!

 The peel will slip off the boiled potatoes easily.  You can rub off the peel by using a clean dish towel.  Hold the potato with the towel in one hand and rub off the peeling with the other — somewhat similar to drying a cup.  Or hold the potato on a cutting board with a fork and gently tease off the peel with the tip of a knife.  Stir the cooked potatoes into the dressing gently to avoid breaking them.   I would also tip the skillet to make the dressing run to one side and spoon it over the potatoes to lessen the amount of stirring necessary to coat the potatoes.

This week is Donna’s birthday. Here are wishes for a wonderful celebration day and the beginning of a fabulous new decade!!!

Donna also shared this recipe for Spinach Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing a couple of years ago. 

Hot German Potato Salad
 
A tangy, yet slightly sweet potato dish with bacon and onions! Delicious with brats or burgers, a hit at potlucks and just for the family at home.
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ pounds potatoes
  • 4 slices bacon
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ¼ c vinegar
  • Snipped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Cover potatoes with water and boil potatoes until tender about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain and somewhat cool to touch. Peel and slice into ¼ inch slices.
Dressing
  1. While boiling potatoes, cook bacon till crisp in medium sized skillet. Remove bacon and reserve 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease in skillet.
  2. Add onion to drippings, cook on medium heat till tender. Set aside until potatoes are peeled and sliced.
  3. Stir in flour sugar, salt celery seeds, dry mustard, and pepper until mixed well.
  4. Stir in water and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened and bubbly.
  5. Gently stir in potatoes & bacon crumbles. Cook, stirring gently 1 or 2 min till heated through.
  6. Transfer to serving bowl & sprinkle with fresh parsley



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