this is a thing i did over on goodreads back in 2010/2011. when i got this message: As of July 5, 2022, Goodreads will no longer support new creative writing. All creative writing will be removed from Goodreads on Sept. 1, 2022, i decided to preserve it over here, even though the photography is TERRIBLE. i’ve come a long way, baby! let’s chuckle together at my early days of food photography!
CHAPTER ONE: CUCUMBER COUSCOUS SALAD
i hate summer. i hate it so much. i can barely eat in the summer, let alone cook because i am usually too busy groaning and sweating. recently, i found a magazine that had 24 recipes for different pasta salads, so i decided to make them all, one after another, because they require very little cooking/heating up my apartment time and they allow me to eat nice cold fare all summer. alfonso asked me to send him pictures of all of them, because one time last year i made a pasta salad and he liked it. so, i post them here for him to enjoy, and the rest of you to pay attention or disregard as is your wont.
you can barely see the couscous, but i swear it is in there. this is my first time using buttermilk for anything, so that was exciting. i am not the biggest fan of dill, but a recipe is a recipe and must be followed.
alfonso—happy birthday—if you were here, i would give you some of this salad.
verdict: i liked it, even though i am not wild about dill. there was a pepper fiasco where i accidentally used the pouring side of my 18 oz jar of pepper instead of the gentle shaking side and so it was a little more spicy than intended. sean called it “wet rice,” greg liked it a lot and i thought it was pretty good. i made way too much, as i always automatically double all recipes (who can be fed off of 1 cup of couscous??) i used three or four, at least.
that was pasta salad number one—lukewarm reception, but admittedly perfectly refreshing in the hot weather.
CHAPTER TWO: ROASTED RED PEPPER SALAD
this one was less exotic—more like the traditional pasta salads i made before this magazine came into my life: pasta, scallions, roasted red peppers, feta, and a juice made with chicken broth, italian dressing mix, and balsamic. again—i doubled everything, even though this recipe called for a more realistic portion of “one box” of spirals. it looks like this:
that picture is so glistening and lurid. it is less pornographic here, in my house.
no disasters occurred while cooking (for once), so no interesting stories. after i distribute it to my eaters, i will return here to give the verdict, but for now, that was pasta salad number two!
I like this one better than the first one! the first one was very good, but this one has more flavors that i like in it.
(uneven capitals sic)
sean said it would make a great “base” for an antipasto salad (translation: i wish it had meat in it)
me, i liked it a lot, but i think next time i will not use jarred roasted red peppers, but will make my own. the marinade was making my heart go all jazz.
CHAPTER THREE: ROASTED VEGGIE PASTA SALAD
eggplant, red peppers, butternut squash, zucchini, red onions, marjoram, basil.
this was the recipe that did it for me—i took one look and said “butternut squash in pasta salad? fuck yeah!” i knew i had to make it, and i liked three or four other recipes in the pasta salad spread, but being an all-or-nothing kind of girl, i knew that unless i made all 24—unless i made myself a serious committed deal—i would never make any of them and the magazine would sit with all the others, sad and unused.
so here we are.
and honestly, roasted vegetables in the summer?? bad move, karen. they are delicious, but it is so so hot in here right now. and the recipe says to serve it hot or at room temperature. bullshit. pasta salad is served cold. if it is served hot, it is just pasta, people.
alfonso says these chapters have not been sexy enough, so i took this picture, which i think is what he is looking for:
sexy enough for you, fonso?? also sexy was when i forgot the italian dressing and had to run across the street in my “indoor clothes,” and on the way there a man driving by hooted at me.
fellas, this is never a good idea.
that is about as sexy as my day has been, so far.
but i haven’t eaten this pasta yet.
greg: Your Salad is better when you eat it with a fork and get all the flavors mixed up than just picking out each little piece and eating it. I’m liking it a lot! But the eggplant is giving me the hiccups. I still might like last weeks salad better, but this one is excellent too!
sean: i didn’t think i would like it because—you know—vegetables. every week i am unprepared—i have the one i think is my favorite, and then you make a new one, and that one is my favorite, it’s all too much.
me: fucking rock star of a salad. cold butternut squash is my new favorite thing.
CHAPTER FOUR: SUPREME SPAGHETTI SALAD
this one looked so dull, but a deal is a deal. zzzzzzzzzzz.
(and i am sorry for all y’all who said my pictures looked gross and glisten-y, but i am not mapplethorpe and i don’t know shit about lighting.) so—yes—the before: (and you (alfonso or anyone else paying attention) know that i have been going back and doing the after-eating commentary as well, yeah? not that it is award-winning journalism, but if you are going to make any of these yourselves, it will help to know which one has been most favorably received by the panel of three who have actually eaten it.)
so—spaghetti, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, italian dressing, various seasonings. it’s very, very basic, no-excitement pasta salad. i kept wanting to add things into it to make it more interesting, but i refrained from deviating from the recipe. i expect this is how parents feel when they see their children making poor decisions and wanting to intervene but also knowing it is wrong. i left my pasta baby alone, and this is what happened.
also—seriously—this weather?? it is bullshit. i have to go find a pile of crushed ice to crawl under.
watch this space for responses.
this was actually pretty delicious, despite its very basic ingredients. sean doesn’t usually like spaghetti in pasta salad, but ended up saying it was “the best thing i have ever made,” which he pretty much says every week, so i am going to cut him out of the panel from now on, i think, because it is getting old. greg said something complimentary, but i forget what because it was so long ago. i know he liked it less than the one i will be posting here shortly. oh, yeah, he said: broccoli. too crunchy. but otherwise he liked it.
CHAPTER FIVE: SHRIMP ORZO SALAD
yes, yes, i took a week off, but only from posting, not from actually making the pasta salads. in a way, this works out better, because now i have had a whole week to make and eat and reflect, instead of having to keep going back to slap on the judgments after everyone has had their fill.
so that is shrimp orzo, and if it looks like snuff film set food, so be it, because it was dee-fucking-licious. (full disclosure, i had to make this one out of order, because i got these great shrimp when i was in rhode island and i wanted to use them for this before they went bad, so i jumped ahead one recipe) and i am trying to make the recipes as they are written, except when i double ingredients i think are grossly underestimated, but this one i had to, because it called for olives, and they are gross. i am not wild about dill, but i have put it into a bunch of these recipes, and i am going to use the ranch dressing when i get to that recipe, even though i think it is kind of blucky, but i am making an exception here. olives are unacceptable. but the recipe works fine without them—deliciously in fact. shrimp, red and green peppers, artichoke hearts, red onion, dill, parsley, white wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, orzo and a ton of shrimp…
the recipe says it takes a half hour to make, but it took me way longer than that. i think they probably used already cleaned and cooked shrimp. and only 3/4 lb of ’em.
guess what sean said?? yup, best thing he has ever eaten, wants it for his birthday, etc etc etc. greg loved it and said the shrimp were perfectly cooked. i put a lot of parmesan shavings on mine, and i thought it was pretty freaking great. but now that i am looking at that picture, i agree, it looks disgusting. i tried it without the flash, and it just looked…dark. who cares, it is awesome, and it is all in my tummy. if you think it is gross, it doesn’t matter cuz you can’t have it anyway.
this time, i will try something different with the picture.
CHAPTER SIX: CABBAGE-TOMATO PASTA TOSS
trying something new with the picture, to make it less mess-hally.
the penguins are there because this recipe calls for bow-tie pasta, the most formal of all pastas, and penguins are nature’s best dressed creatures. better, more appetizing portion??
this one was maybe a little disappointing at first, and again i think it is the fault of the recipe’s measurements. the picture in the magazine shows a nearly red pasta, with cabbage everywhere.
although i used an entire bag of pre-shredded cabbage, it seemed to get lost in the pasta—you didn’t even notice it. i think if i make this again, i will just shred the cabbage myself, like the opposite of the lazy person i am, so i can shred it wider. i also doubled the tomatoes, but would have liked more of those, as well…but the taste is excellent: really ripe plum tomatoes, cabbage (sort of), fresh parsley, toasted bread crumbs, almonds, garlic, basil, red wine vinegar—just a very fresh-tasting pasta salad. i kept going back for more, so that has to mean something.
sean’s opinions are not included this week because a) they have been too consistently praiseworthy and unimaginative, and b) he has not even tasted it yet, having spent all week eating ice cream and beer for dinner. no, that’s not fair, one night he had donuts and empanadas. good thing i am such a good and appreciated cook…
greg said it was “delicious,” and then tried to think of a better word than delicious and seemed to run into a wall. he can be more eloquent in the comment section, if he wants to.
overall—not as good as i thought it was going to be, but a really great idea, and one that i can make better in the future.
CHAPTER SEVEN: CASHEW-CHICKEN ROTINI SALAD
dammit—i accidentally deleted this bitch! okay—so i hate these pictures, but i was trying to be all fancy and please the people who were grossed out by my pictures, and i thought they were fine on the camera, but they are blurry and lame, and now i have no more pasta salad to photograph. so from now on, i am just going to go back to the way i was doing it before, and if you got a complaint, you may address it to my rear.
so it is rotini, red and green grapes, dried cranberries, pineapples, scallions, celery, chicken, ranch dressing (i used parmesan-peppercorn lite ranch because i don’t like regular ranch dressing, really) and cashews.
and it is amazing. best one yet. i really like fruit in pasta salads, and i also like just rubbing a little salt and pepper into chicken breasts and baking them. i used to poach chicken in wine and lemon juice when i was using it for pasta salad, but this way is better, and it added a nice salty-spiciness to the sweet fruity salad. plus, the cashews were salted, which was a nice contrast, especially with the pineapples.
i forgot to add the cashews to greg’s portion—oops. i added them right before serving because i didn’t want them to lose their crunch. but i forgot to add them to greg’s tupperware. sorry, greg!! despite all that, he said: “I liked the sweetness of the grapes and raisins with the chicken, I also like the texture that the grapes made with the salad. It was a very yummy and refreshing salad, it was perfect for a really hot, humid and gross night.”
(note—there were no raisins. i assume he meant the cranberries)
sean called this “a revelation” and said he didn’t usually like fruit in his dinner but he loved this and then he went off on some top chef-like speech about how i have grown as a cook and when i first started this project i was good, but now i am amazing and it was like the olympics and by then i had tuned out, so i don’t know what he said after that. but i fucking love this dish and i will definitely make this again.
don’t look at the pictures, respond to my enthusiasm…
CHAPTER EIGHT: BLACK BEAN BOWTIE SALAD
shark week!! this is what it would look like if a shark were cruising my pasta salad:
and it was delicious. bowties, zucchini, red and green peppers, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, black beans, garlic, tomato paste, oregano…
this is the one i made last week, all drunked up on mimosas, so i can definitely vouch that it is simple to make, even while intoxicated. although it is more involved than some of the other ones because you need to use a food processor (kids, don’t drink and operate heavy machinery). so half of the beans are all pureed with the cilantro and chicken broth and stuff and half get to stay all chunky and textured. but—wow. i have never used beans in pasta salad before, but they are delicious! and the smooshed ones taste really good and form exciting deposits, and cilantro—don’t get me started on my love of cilantro.
greg (who has been watching too much top chef) said it tasted like “a deconstructed vegetarian burrito” and gave it the highest marks yet. he liked the raw zucchini best.
sean (predictably) said it was the best thing i have ever made, he was really surprised that he liked cold beans, but he thought the combination of black beans and pasta was delicious.
i thought it needed salt. in a big way. but after that—yes, i thought it was delicious. the pasta salads that are mayonnaise or creamy-dressing-based don’t taste as good after a couple of days, but these ones without all the dairy taste as good on the fourth day as they did the day they were made. because i make big batches—to eliminate the need to ever cook again during the week because summer cooking is the worst torture of them all. and his one really held up.
CHAPTER NINE: GREEK PASTA SALAD
my picture looks nothing like the picture in the magazine (and not only because i am a shitty food photographer, david…):
i wasn’t expecting anything from this one because of how lame the magazine picture was. just some boring tomatoes and some pasta with some gross things tossed in there for texture. because, once you remove the olives from the recipe (and you will remove the olives unless you are suicidal or like the taste of poison), there doesn’t seem to be much going on. but this is where my modifying recipes with ingredient-favoritism came in handy. and now my pasta is green!
there was a sauce to make in the blender and the pour over the pasta for this one. i see no evidence of it in the magazine photo. but it is basically a pesto: basil, olive oil, white vinegar, oregano, scallions, salt pepper and parmesan cheese. i used a lot of basil. and i ate half of the sauce standing at the sink with a wooden spoon. and my pasta was still bright green. with tomatoes and green peppers and red peppers and feta and no olives. and it is the only pasta salad that has been completely eaten in three days. gone. container licked clean. surprisingly light-tasting for all the cheese in it.
sean called it “unexpectedly fresh and exciting” “the tomatoes popped in your mouth” (he may be making fun of me at this point—because i pooh-poohed his opinions before when he would only say “best ever”). he even said, “maybe not the best one, but high-ranking.”
greg says: The pesto (please change this if it wasn’t actually pesto), was amazing tasting, my only gripe is that I would have liked even more cherry tomatoes. There were lots, but I would have liked to have one in every forkful of salad. The tomatoes were especially yummy with the pesto stuff.
sean seconded the thing about the tomatoes, and so do i, even though i used 2 containers of those campari tomatoes and some grape tomatoes as well. but, they were indeed delicious. big thumbs up for this one, even though i doubt it as an example of authentic greekiness.
edit: lies, all lies!! that’s why there weren’t enough tomatoes!! i meant to use the camparis for this but ended up grilling them for breakfast. i just looked at the picture and realized i only used cherry and grape tomatoes because the camparis were calling to me….oops.
CHAPTER TEN: SHRIMP PASTA SALAD
here’s something sad. this photo is a culinary memento mori. moments after i took it, i had to throw it out.
as delicious as this was, circumstances conspired to keep it from being eaten, and the shrimp became a little slimy and i didn’t trust it, so out it went. i fucking hate throwing away food. and i wish i had taken a picture earlier in the week, when the shrimp was baby-puppy-pink, but this is what you get.
and what is so angry-making is that this one was de-lish-uss. shrimp, baby shells, parsley and dill, peas, scallions, yogurt and mayonnaise, lemon juice, white pepper…
i was concerned that it would be icky because i prefer pasta salads that have clear “dressings” to mayo-based ones, that can get clumpy and sour. but this ratio of pasta to dressing (and the ratio is mine—the magazine photo shows a lot of white covering—mine was much less saucy) was perfect. the dressing was just a whisper of a taste—the dominant flavors were fresh clean parsley and dill (which is growing on me)(metaphorically) and this fresh firm shrimp (that i had to go to about 4 different places for—why can’t i find seafood here anymore??)
but this one was a success.
greg says: I liked it a lot, but not as much as the other pasta salad with the shrimp in it. I feel like a broken record saying this, but it was yummy and refreshing, another pasta salad perfect for gross summer days.
sean says, from his sickbed in the corner: this was his favorite of all time and he is sad he didn’t get too eat more of it, due to fever-illness. he thought the shells were the perfect size and he loved the way i made the shrimp and he thought it was “bright” and “fresh.”
so, despite a bunch of it getting trashed, it was very tasty…
CHAPTER ELEVEN: SPINACH PASTA SALAD
everyone’s got complaints this week.
although dave russell should be pleased it is not rotini (although he is going to have to brace himself for the many rotinis in the near future). so—quick rundown: bowties, spinach, yellow peppers, dried apricots, i added shredded carrots to the recipe because i thought it needed more food in it, and a vinaigrette.
i am not a super big fan of dried fruits, unless they are raisins or cranberries. but i liked the apricots in this salad more than i thought i would. the vinaigrette re-hydrated them, so there was this weird texture in the middle of the salad, but it was kind of like a mouth adventure. like someone slapped some gummy peaches in there or something. i think this one was the most beautiful of all the salads so far—i love the way the yellow peppers looked with the spinach, and i am glad i added those carrots. i am sure this has like a million vitamins in it, so—score!
sean, mr. “i don’t like fruit in my dinner,” was mostly too sick this week to even eat much of it. but he did say he liked the bowties. which i didn’t make. those were from a box.
greg said there could have been more balsamic vinegar in my vinaigrette. well, excuuuuuuuuse me, greg colicchio! no, it’s fine. i stand behind my dish—i think if there was more balsamic, it would make the apricots yukky. but this is me, stoic, bearing up under criticism. later, after he realized this was no way to treat a lady on her birthday, he revised this opinion and stated: My first helping I thought could have more vinegar to mix with the sweetness of the dried apricots. But, the second helping had the dried apricots infused nicely with the vinegar. It was a delicious taste combination. The rest of the salad was nice too, but the dried apricots and vinegar were the stand out parts. I even wrote a haiku about it.
sweet and savory
who knew it would taste this good
more vinegar? no!
actually, this wasn’t my favorite one either, and it’s a shame, for i was looking forward to it because i love yellow peppers and spinach so much. i think i would have liked it better without the pasta, actually. and maybe some sliced mushrooms and pine nuts or something. i am not saying i am sick of pasta—for some reason, i am still bearing up just fine under the pasta onslaught. this one was very pretty, but just not my favorite.
now i gotta make next week’s before i start having fun!
CHAPTER TWELVE: PASTA SALAD PLUS
this is the halfway point, bitches!!!
rotinis, carrots, green peppers, artichoke hearts, kidney beans, chickpeas, celery, onions, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, garlic, vinegar, oil, sugar, etc…
i was apprehensive about this one because i thought the texture of the raw carrots would be too crunchy, and i wasn’t so sure about the amount of sugar(!) in the dressing. who wants a sweet pasta salad?? not me, that’s for sure. but it was not sweet, as i had feared. i ate three bowls of this while reading mockingjay, which i regret, because i was so into the book i barely noticed it. i am such a nerd. but when i was able to focus, later, i discovered it was quite tasty, although three bowls sat pretty heavy. i was just a food-shoveling machine…
sean is a big fan of beans in pasta salad, so hooray. he made a lot of noise when he saw me measuring out the sugar—something about not putting it in there because it would make the pasta salad gross (from the guy who ate chocolate frosting from a spoon for breakfast yesterday and thought i didn’t know) but he loves artichoke hearts, and after reluctantly eating a spoonful, he declared it a complete and utter success, and ended up eating most of it by himself.
greg…greg liked it, i know that, but he is being slow to respond to my pLeas for feedback. so forget him for now. i gave some to rabeha and she proposed to me, so there’s another thumbs-up. so far, i am very pleased with the way these pasta salads have been going. none of them have been gross, and they have all been different enough that i have not grown weary of them. and even though summer has come to an end, it is still 95 degrees out there, so the whole purpose of pasta salad summer remains valid…
oh, here’s greg—cutting it close…This weeks salad was delicious as usual. I wanted to ask for more but I thought that would be greedy. I wish I had more of the salad.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: ANTIPASTO PICNIC SALAD
finally—some meat for my mouth!
it was far, far meatier than that picture indicates. and it was delicious. shells, giardiniera, broccoli, mozzarella cheese, salami, ham, pepperoni, green pepper, red wine vinegar, olive oil, various seasonings…holy yum!
this was by far the most expensive of the pasta salads, so that was lame—how does four bags of groceries translate into 75 dollars?? but it did. i don’t care, it was awesome, and i still somehow have some in the fridge, which i am going to be gobbling down later.
there were olives in the giardiniera, which greg will complain about later, but i did not add the additional olives, so we dodged a bullet there. this is a really tasty one that i feel like i will be making in the future for various potluck obligations (but not for today—today i made tarragon chicken salad with cucumbers and cantaloupe) and i am still having fun with these pastas!!
sean says: it is the best antipasto salad he has ever had (and he has been around, antipasto salad-wise). he said he thought about it all day, and i am pretty sure he stuck his dick in it when i was at work. i mean, he really liked this one. he loves meat, and i feel bad that i am putting him through a series of meatless dishes, but he has been very grown-up about the whole thing. he did say he would have liked some of those little hot peppers in it, and i agree with that.
greg says: This might be the best salad yet, even though a stray olive made its way into the mix. Karen, at the end of the 24 weeks you should remake all of the salads in small tasting size portions so they can all be compared side by side. This might sound like an impractical idea but really it is not.
i will do it if you finance it.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: SWEET PEPPER PESTO PASTA
this pasta salad almost looks menacing. grrrrrr….
not much to this one: bowties, yellow and red peppers, parmesan cheese, pesto, olive oil…the recipe called for black olives, but not fucking likely! why does every pasta salad need those little bastards in it?? not on my watch, friends.
this one was good, i thought, but no bells and whistles. and i was mad that three of my markets were out of yellow peppers last week, so i had to go to fancyland and get 2 medium ones that came out to be more than 5 dollars. it would be one thing if they were actually made of gold, but i tasted them, and they were not. they were only made of peppers. but a solid pasta salad; i think this would be good with grilled chickens on top. and walnuts. this is a good base for an outstanding pasta salad.
sean said it wasn’t as good as the meat one from last week and he got this nostalgic look in his eyes and teared up a little, i think. then he mentioned how good the meat salad would have been with those little hot peppers. yeah, sean, i get it. hot peppers. noted. he said this one was a little boring, so i kicked him in the balls, blammo.
greg was on vacation this week, so silvia filled in. this is what she had to say:
It was addictively delicious! I ate the whole thing now when I got home from work. Although I didn’t eat the peppers. I think the pesto and pasta and cheese work better on their own. Pesto+peppers=too much burpy burp fart. But mmmmm, pesto and pasta and cheese is yummy yum yum.
Now give me other pasta salads to try! Or at least make Greg give me a taste of each one so I can have something to compare them to. You’ve created a pasta salad eating monster, nooooooooo!
but then i had a little left over, so i was able to give greg some after all. this is what he said:
I had some pasta just now.
I liked it. It was simpler than a lot of them, not as showy or grandstanding. A pasta salad that is willing to take the role of side dish in a meal instead of being a meal in itself. Criminally eaten if all the peppers are removed.
amen, uncle greg, amen.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: RICE NOODLE SALAD
if it looks gross, it is probably your eyes…
this is the first time i have ever worked with rice noodles, or “rice sticks.” they are awesome to cook. you just sort of dip them into hot water and lo! they are noodles! and they are really light and nicely textured. so, this one—spinach, cilantro, carrots, pineapples, scallions, peanuts, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, sesame oil, red pepper flakes…
i love cold sesame noodles. unfortunately, my favorite place to get them is closed and all others pale by comparison. i like a thick, peanutty sauce with sesame seeds, and thin thin carrot matchsticks. and long strips of scallion.
this is not that.
i liked this one, but i wish it had more sauce to it. i doubled the recipe and everything, but it was still more like a peanut topping than a peanut sauce. i think this would be great with some grilled chicken in it—or salmon—something to make it stick to your guts a little more. and although i drained the pineapples, it still seemed to make for a very liquidy salad.
I enjoyed the change to the rice noodles, the lightness of them made this salad stand out from the previous ones. I liked this one quite a bit, my only complaint was that a couple of forkfuls were overly spicy, I would have liked the spread out the spiciness a bit. I think that was my fault though and not the salad’s.
It was yummy. There were a few bites that were really really spicy and my mouth got all hot, but then it would cool down again and be delicious (spicy wasn’t bad, it must made me slow down eating for a bit!)
Booooooobbbiiiiiieeesss ( o )( o )
Ok, pasta: I really, really liked the combination of sweet and spicy and crunchy with the pineapple and noodles and sauce and snow peas. But I wanted the sauce to be saucier, though I guess a thicker sauce might have overpowered the thin noodles (does that sound dirty?) All in all, it was yummy, but not something you’d eat if you have to speak with anyone, cuz the scallions and spicy sauce make your breath quite pungent, but oh so yummy.
sean said it was light with surprising flavors—very different from the other salads. he liked it, but it was not his favorite.
shrug. a solid “b,” but we can do better.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
i am sick, so this write-up will be even more boring than usual. but this is what it looks like; it is even a bad photograph. don’t judge, i fever.
but this one was a favorite across the board. rotinis, chicken, mozzarella, mushrooms, green and red peppers, scallions, pepperoni (there were supposed to be olives, naturally), various oils and vinegars and seasonings…it was like a delicious pizza, with some noodles thrown in.
this was a week of circumstances, so i was able to eat very little of the pasta myself, but what i had of it was excellent. the mushrooms absorbed the red vinegar and got all plump and dark and there was always a bit of fun with: is this a chunk of cheese or a chunk of chicken?? nom nom—cheese!! dinner with a built-in game. everyone claimed to love it but when it came time for the quotes, they seemed reticent with the sharing.
paraphrased sean: he loved the way i cooked the chicken, he loved the giant chunks of cheese, rotinis are his favorite, he wants this for his birthday and every day forever.
low-key greg: Heartier than most of the salads, this one was a full meal all by itself. One of my favorites so far. Easily my favorite that didn’t involve shrimp. Good job, Karen!
a strangely subdued silvia: This is the best pasta salad I’ve tasted so far. I can’t think of fancy things to say about it. It was just so goddamn good. I WANT MORE.
is this what pasta salad exhaustion looks like??
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: GARDEN TUNA MACARONI SALAD
this picture did not look so blurry when i reviewed it on my camera. sor-bad.
but finally—a pasta salad with macaroni. jesus, does no one eat macaroni anymore?? so, yeah—macaronis, tuna, radishes, yellow pepper, celery, scallions (natch), shredded carrot, parsley, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing (again—parmesan-peppercorn kind for me), very tasty. all the underground-vegetables and the parsley gave this a very good, healthily earthy taste. i really liked this one, but the tuna got lost a little, i think. i used three cans, but somehow it wasn’t enough. i think the flavor of the tuna was too gentle to stand up to huge chunks of spicy radish.
sean loved the radishes, he echoed my “earthiness” comment, he liked the mayonnaise, even though he complained before about too many mayonnaise-based ones “but i hadn’t had it in a while, so it was nice…” he liked the crunchy celery. he would have wanted more tuna, also, and he basically said it was very hearty and yet light. “can it be both, sean??” “i just woke up, it’s hard to think.”
This is one of my favorite tuna pasta salads I’ve ever had. The salad could have used a little more tuna, sometimes the amount of vegetables made me forget there even was tuna in the salad, but that is not much of a complaint since the vegetable combinations were great and almost a surprise of what exactly each forkful would taste like. Karen said that there should have been more sauce, but the helpings I had weren’t dry at all. Another good job!
i just made the pasta salad for next week, but since i am going away, i may not be able to make one next monday. i know you are all deeply disappointed…i will be able to post the one i made today, but i may not have time/inclination to cook on monday when i get back.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: SOMBRERO PASTA SALAD
so, this pasta salad looked so gross that i had to make it cuter somehow. this was my decision:
i think i will never learn how to photograph food properly. for a while, it felt like i was on a roll, but these last few have been pretty gross-looking.
so this one is ground beef (finally—some meat up in here), taco seasoning, cheddar cheese, tomato, green pepper, onion, spiral pasta, and catalina salad dressing.
at first, i was skeptical, because who wants to eat cold ground beef? also, i get grossed out when the recipe is like “pour entire bottle of dressing over noodles.” i can never audition for top chef with this recipe. but i mostly liked it. i have never had catalina dressing before…it’s a little sweet, but the taco seasoning made it spicy enough to fight the candy-dinner. (wait until you see the one i just made—holy shit—sean is never going to eat this shit).
in fact, sean might never eat anything i make again—he has officially declared himself sick of pasta salads. and the whole five days i was gone, and he was supposed to be eating this one, it seems like he was doing a vacation for his stomach, judging by the takeout chinese, japanese, mexican, and pizza remnants i came home to. he is not here to tell me what he thought of this one, but i know he liked it at the beginning—the first time he had it, but when the cat’s away—no pasta salad needs to be eaten.
Portland got Karen and I got an extra helpings of Taco Salad. Jealous Eh?, Meredith, Elizabeth, Ceridwen, KI, Jackie, Montambo and other people I am missing? This one wasn’t one of my favorites, but that doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with it. All of the tastes were good but it kept feeling like it should have been a casserole instead of a salad, and my mouth was confused by expectations of a cooked but now cold dish versus a salad. My mouth was kind of stupid in expecting the former. It also seemed to keep expecting melted cheesiness to be in the bites, but that wasn’t the dish my mouth was getting. My mouth is pretty stupid and it doesn’t learn and it seemed constantly surprised at what it was getting. I’m not really sure what my mouth’s problem is, it has had things like Taco Salad in the past, but maybe it kept thinking modified nacho’s but with pasta.
but i agree—there was not enough cheese…and it wasn’t yummy melted cheese, it was shredded, raw, cold cheese. which is still tasty, but i agree—keep this dish hot.
five more to go!!!!
CHAPTER NINETEEN: SWEET PEA SALAD
wow. so. yuk.
i mean, there was bound to be one, right?? one out of 24 that everyone hates? this was just a mistake from the get-go. before i went to market, i skimmed the ingredients list and i thought, “huh. interesting.” but then i looked closer, at the measurements, and i thought “this has to be a mistake.” but, i figured maybe it was one of those things that sounds gross (like peanut butter, applesauce, and salt-and-vinegar potato chip sandwiches) but is really, really good.
but, no, it’s pretty gross.
to give you an idea, it is bow tie pasta, carrots, peas, celery, onions, mayonnaise, buttermilk, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
oh, yeah, and 4 cups of condensed milk and 2 1/2 c sugar.
so i followed the recipe, and i ended up with these poor pastas floating in a diabetes lake. instead of maybe draining it like a smartie, i ran out and bought another package of pasta. and some more peas, for fun. so now we are talking about three boxes of pasta in this…sauce.
it is so sweet.
i can totally eat ice cream for dinner, i have no problem with the sweets. but sweet pasta is just…unfair.
do you know how much of this i have left?? i gave some to greg, silvia, brad…i tried to foist it onto lesley’s whole family…i don’t think sean has even had more than a bite—he just kind of glared at me and asked me why i hated him. connor suggested i feed it to strawberry shortcake. so, after a week, i still have about three generous portions here, and i don’t want to have to throw it out.
won’t someone come over and eat it?? (TWSS)
greg’s two cents:
I didn’t like this pasta salad. It was overly sweet, I mean like sickeningly sweet and it sort of reminded me of cole slaw, which is disgusting and if I were a believer in the devil I’d venture a guess was made by the devil jizzing all over some chopped up cabbage. A bite of this pasta salad wasn’t bad, but after two or three forkfuls the sweetness was so overpowering I’d have to wait a few minutes before having another bite. Because I hate wasting food I ate it all. It took me almost three hours.
sean “seriously, enough with the pasta salad” patterson could not be reached for comment.
it’s not terrible, but there is only so much you can eat before you just want to be eating anything else. i tried to counteract the sweet with heaping doses of black pepper. it made it a little better.
four more pastas…
four more pastas…
CHAPTER TWENTY: CREAMY SHELL PASTA SALAD
i am getting worse at photographing these things, and i don’t even care anymore…
i think i have hit the pasta salad wall. as i write this, the pasta for next week is simmering away in the pot, and i am also baking a batch of brownies. chances are, those brownies will be gone long before the pasta salad. i am just going through the motions now.
thanksgiving is going to be extra thankful this year, because i guarantee you i will have no pasta salad on that table. i keep chanting, “three more to go, three more to go…”
but, while we are here, we might as well talk about this bitch. shells, carrots, broccoli, american cheese, cucumber, celery, sunflower kernels, hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, milk, red wine vinegar, dried minced onions, garlic powder, parsley, mustard, s&p and all that.
the sunflower kernels were an exciting addition, as well as the eggs. because i had to share this with greg and all, i made 6 eggs instead of the requisite one, so everyone got some. i needn’t have worried. sean didn’t even eat a bite of this thing, and i am pretty sure he has moved out, running into the arms of someone willing to feed him roasted meat and potatoes. or just any hot food, really. it’s fine, now i have more room to store this uneaten pasta salad.
the store was somehow out of american cheese, so i got one block of swiss and one of monterey jack. (these fucking swiss, they come into our markets and take all the jobs our solid american cheeses should be getting…) but it was good—i love broccoli in pasta salad, i love crunchy vegetables. i am getting a little tired of the creamy salads; i prefer the vinegar-y ones. but—it was good—much much better than last week, and i am just so grateful to be nearing the end of this foolish thing i have set out to do.
After the murderous sweetness of last weeks salad this week was a welcome return to deliciousness. This one reminded me of summer, it had the taste of eating outside without the annoyances of outside things getting into your food. I especially liked the monochromatic feel of the dish. I’m not being sarcastic either, I liked the surprise of not knowing if I was about to eat a piece of yummy cheese or a piece of yummy hard boiled egg. I liked the element of surprise in almost every bite.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: RANCH PASTA SALAD
oh, i don’t know. this is basically the same pasta salad as the week before, and i don’t think it is a case of them just blending together in my protein-starved brain. “hey, how did you like the pasta salad we printed before this one?? well, how would you like it with fewer ingredients??” this one is like the outline for the one last week.
tricolor rotinis, broccoli, cucumber, tomato, ranch dressing, parmesan cheese. period. after twenty pasta salads, i think i needed one with more fireworks, more flavors.
and it tastes good—i liked having the tomatoes in it, and i heaped it with fresh-grated cheese, so that was nice, but at this point in the game, shouldn’t there be gummy bears or something? a wow factor??
sean briefly moved back in because i bought these chocolate-covered ritz crackers, but then he left again, refusing to eat this one. sometimes, when the moon is full and the breeze comes from the west, you can hear his howls as he scurries through the alleys, desperate for roast chicken or steak with parslied potatoes.
greg is still on board, though:
Your salad is excellent!
I will write a review for it now as I’m eating.
I love this salad. It is simpler than most of the ones lately, but everything in it is delicious and has it’s place in my overall enjoyment. I love broccoli, and tomatoes and cheese and all three are here, but none of them dominate the show, they all feel like a treat to be eating. The cucumber gives a nice taste and texture to contrast with the broccoli. I’ve said it in earlier ones, but this might be my favorite salad, or maybe my favorite non-shrimp salad, but the competition is pretty steep.
i think he is happy because he has been eating for free forever now. and he will get generous portions of my annual thanksgiving madness, where i make 8 courses for two people and then wonder why.
god, two more to go…
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: LAYERED SUMMERTIME SALAD
yes, i am aware it is november:
“layered” it is not. “summer” it is not, but i am doing the best i can here.
gemelli, mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, garlic powder, scallions, bacon, romaine, cauliflower, broccoli, red pepper, shredded swiss cheese, and because there are no snow peas at my store this time of year, i decided to go with alfalfa sprouts, because i think they are tasty.
full disclosure—i did not have any of this pasta salad. i had a couple of perfunctory bites this morning, but i just couldn’t be bothered to eat any this week. i have no memory of what i did eat this week, but i know it was not this. i gave some to brad, and he loved it, and even sean ate some this week. i don’t know what my problem is, i think i am in a pasta salad funk. my life is doing that thing where it gets filled up with Things To Be Concerned About, and i am just stressed out and not feeling like eating any pasta salad after a long hard day at work. i need a vacation.
but here are some other people’s thoughts:
greg: Unlike the other pasta salads, the servings that I’ve gotten at least, were more like salads with some pasta in them. The vegetables overthrew the pasta and made the salad their own! I learned that bacon with cauliflower is very tasty, a combination I’d never thought of before. I really enjoyed this vegetable-centric salad. I also really enjoy free food.
sean—(as i quickly type what he is saying from across the room) a lot of great textures, everything stayed crisp until the end—i really like the lettuce; i thought the pasta was a little sweet, but the rest of the salad made up for it. the alfalfa sprouts were earthy and fresh.
whatever. i just finished making the 24th pasta salad, it is cooling in my fridge and i am going to curl up now and dream of turkey and stuffing.
HOLY SHITBALLS! I JUST THERE ARE ONLY TWENTY-THREE RECIPES IN THIS BOOK!!
the whole time, i have been calling this pasta salad project “24 pasta salads” and that is just a big fat lie!! i swear i am not just sticking one under the rug because i am sick of it—there are truly only 23. i will go change my title now…
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: ITALIAN BASIL PASTA SALAD
remember me and my blurry pasta pictures?? i’m back to finally post the last pasta salad ever!! i made it ages ago, of course, but i never did my little write up. so here it is!!
wooo hooo!! i made it through all the pasta salads!! and i went out on a good one, thank goodness. bow ties, grape tomatoes, mozzarella, yellow pepper, red onion, pickled banana pepper rings, salami, basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic…
it was delicious. my only wish is that i realized how blurry this picture was when i was looking at it on my (greg’s) old (now dead) camera. with my new camera i am unstoppable, as anyone following adventures in food and fun will know. but back then, i was so excited by how many colors there were in the dish, i didn’t notice the blurry contours; i was hypnotized like looking at a rainbow and sobbing.
but i don’t care if it didn’t photograph well, because i know how delicious it was. perfect, even. meat and cheese and basil and red onion are just perfect things to put in a pasta salad. this one i will make again, next summer, when i will probably only make seven pasta salads.
i am glad i experienced this. it was a nice monday-routine of getting out the colander and chopping vegetables…even though by the end i got a little tired of cold pasta, and i hated throwing out the ones that were less successful. but i like projects, and maybe next summer i will think of another one to master.
sean probably said many things, mostly about how delicious it was and how amazing i am as a human being, but i don’t remember them and he is at work now. but i know he loves meat, so he probably said this was his favorite thing ever or something like that. i think he was just glad to see the end of this experiment. many times over the course of the summer he would yell things like “i’m big, karen, i need meat!!!” deli cold cuts in cold pasta wasn’t cutting it. but he was more or less stoic, so i have to appreciate that, at least.
Vinegarlicious!! I loved everything in this salad, but sadly I had less of this one than any other salad since the shrimp based salads of summer (not counting the sweet, I didn’t have much of that one but I could have had as much as I wanted). I could eat this one everyday and enjoy it for at least a month or two.
My pasta salad experience. Unlike just about everyone else involved I didn’t grow tired of the pasta salads. Maybe a couple of them I got a little less enthusiastic about eating on the fourth night in a row of having it, but the cheap and poor side of me doesn’t scoff at free yummy food. I think Karen should go on another big weekly cooking project, may I suggest 20 something different Mac and Cheeses? Yes, that sounds like a splendid idea!
AND THAT IS THE END OF THE PASTA SALAD PROJECT!