Through a lifetime of potluck dinners I’ve found that most folks fall into warring camps when it comes to pasta salad (and potato salad):
- There’s the Mayo versus Mustard factions …
- and the Sweet versus Dill Relish factions.
I like to mix things up a bit by throwing them all into my Summer Salad / Pasta Primavera recipe. It’s an unusual combination that has won over many former partisans.
When first prepared, the dish is hot so I call it Pasta Primavera. Once chilled, it’s Summer Salad. Although the ingredients are identical, the two dishes take on very different characters due to the way temperature affects flavors and the resulting texture. Either way, it tastes great.
And, best of all, it keeps well in the fridge so I can make a huge batch for a week of cool summertime lunches (or dinners).
Summer Salad / Pasta Primavera
- 1 tbs. Vegetable Oil (I use virgin olive oil)
- Mixed Pasta*
- 2 cans of Chunk Tuna in water, drained (or canned Chicken if you prefer)
- 1 big squeeze of Miracle Whip
- 1 big squeeze of Spiced Mustard
- 1 big squeeze of Sweet Pickle Relish
- 1 big squeeze of Dill Pickle Relish
- Chopped Green Onions (freeze leftovers in a baggie for next time)
- Salt (to taste)
- Chopped Tomatoes (I prefer Romas)
- Sliced Mushrooms (available pre-sliced but uncut keeps fresh longer)
- Sliced Ripe Olives (I buy them pre-sliced)
- Sliced Green Olives* (optional)
- Chopped Cucumber* (optional)
- Chopped Celery* (optional)
- Crackers (optional)
Makes variable servings in about 30 minutes.
Mixed Pasta — I keep on hand a mix of Barilla short shapes: Mini Farfalle, Mini Penne, Mini Rotelle (wheels), Rotini, and Elbow Macaroni. Barilla also has Gluten-Free, added Protein, Whole Wheat, White Wheat, Veggie, and Tri-Color lines. Be careful that your choices have the same cook time so they’ll all get done at the same time.
I’m not fond of Green Olives and I find the crunch of Cucumber and Celery at odds with this otherwise soft dish. But Mom adds these ingredients to her half. As my father used to say: “De gustibus non est disputandum” (in Latin: “In matters of taste there’s no argument”) … Essentially, there’s no point in arguing about preferences (not that it ever stopped him from arguing about them).
Many of these ingredients are also used in my Mandarin Grilled Chicken Salad and Mexican Mess / Micro Taco Salad recipes so this is an excellent follow-up meal with enough difference to help avoid redundancy.
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- Cook mixed pasta per box instructions, with a dash of salt and some vegetable oil. Leave the pasta a little al dente so it can hold up to all the veggies. While waiting:
- In a large bowl, combine tuna, Miracle Whip, mustard, relishes, green onions, and salt.
- Mix thoroughly to prevent a mouthful of onions! (This happened once, when I forgot them until the last step.)
- Mix in drained pasta. (If you need to chill the dish quickly, run the pasta under cold water first.)
- Chop & slice tomatoes, mushrooms, and ripe olives.
- Optionally, chop & slice green olives, cucumber, and celery.
- Stir in chopped ingredients last so they don’t get bruised.
SERVE & EAT:
When first prepared, the dish is hot so I call it Pasta Primavera. Once chilled, it’s Summer Salad. Although the ingredients are identical, the two dishes take on very different characters due to the way temperature affects flavors and the resulting texture.
This is really a one-dish meal but you can also serve it with crackers, especially when served chilled as Summer Salad.
Summer Salad / Pasta Primavera keeps really well in the fridge so I make it in bulk and we have lunches all week. It also makes a great office lunch.
I love the chilled Summer Salad but Mom prefers warm Pasta Primavera so she microwaves hers for 30-60 seconds.
The recipe above allows the flavors to marinate thoroughly. But if you’re a stickler for presentation, hold out the mushrooms and olives until serving time since they may stain the pasta a little.
Yes, I am aware that Pasta Primavera typically refers to a pasta dish with spring vegetables.
And, no, I can’t reconcile this fact with the name Summer Salad.
What can I say? We eat this in the summer (warmed up or not), so the name Summer Salad just ‘stuck’.
Deal with it; we do. ( :^Þ)