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ugh, so hot

pasta salad

We’re on our third stretch of 90-plus-degrees in Portland (this month!), and there’s a fourth one due next week. As anti-AC people, we have some fans, control sunlight through the blinds, and dress down. And, of course, the oven does not get turned on. I don’t even like having the stove on for very long—who wants to cook and eat rice when it’s 80 degrees indoors?

Trying to come up with summertime cooking ideas, I reached back to my past, to something I fell in love with in the late 80s/early 90s: pasta salad. I remember when Suddenly Salad came out; it was a box with some pasta and a spice packet, and you just added oil. I’d never had pasta salad before, and as a newbie vegetarian, this was so exciting. Well, it didn’t take long to figure out what a waste it was…and how sad and unexciting it really was. I could make something so much better without that box. I could just use my favorite vegetables and spicy Italian dressing.

So that’s what I did yesterday. I made a whole bunch o’ meals’ worth of pasta salad (just hanging out in my fridge for whenever I’m hungry), with red onion, blanched broccoli (not too much, because I’m still training Tom to eat it), bell peppers, basil, olives, and heirloom cherry tomatoes. I considered chopping up some artichoke hearts and throwing them in there, but I paused…maybe I’ll do it when I’m done writing this. It’s sounding like a better idea now.

I don’t really have anything useful to say about pasta salad, I guess. Just sharing the idea, ’cause if I forgot about it, maybe you did too. I will caution first-timers to be very careful about overcooking. The pasta is done when it’s about 30-seconds-until-done, when there’s still just a little too much bite. Then rinse in cold water until it’s cooled off, so it stops cooking. You’re going to be adding liquid (dressing) and vegetables to it, so it will pick up extra moisture. There is nothing so gross as mushy pasta salad. Maybe if there was a dead fly in it—that’d be pretty gross.


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