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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Anti-Pasta Pasta Salad -- a one dish dinner

We love to take road trips and my kids love when we pack picnics for the road but plain, old sandwiches just aren't our cup of tea so I have come up with several things that can be made ahead and then dished out and eaten easily in the car.  One of our favorites is anti-pasta pasta salad.  It has evolved over the years but I think this summer we have perfected it.  I have made it several times in the past 6 weeks to keep in the fridge for a quick lunch for the kids. 

One of the ingredients is a seasoning mix that I actually got from a Paula Deen recipe but I love it for lots of things so I mix it up and keep it in my spice cabinet.  So first the recipe is for the seasoning. 

Seasoning:
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp parsley flakes

Shake this up in a container with a tight seal and store in cupboard for up to six months. 

When it comes to the pasta salad you can really put whatever you like in it so here is my "recipe" but I've given you ideas for swap outs below.

Anti-Pasta Pasta Salad

1/2 lb. baby portobello mushrooms
1 can black olives
1 jar marinate artichoke hearts
1/4 lb. hard salami
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
Parmesan cheese, diced
1 lb. penne cooked according to package
1 lemon
Ken's Light Balsamic dressing
1/4 olive oil

Clean and quarter mushrooms.  Put mushrooms on baking sheet, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 7-9 minutes.  Cool.  Mix pasta with mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts (with the juices), chopped salami, chicken, diced parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle with a 2 teaspoons of the seasoning and squeeze the juice of one lemon over it all.  Toss with olive oil.  Add Balsamic dressing as needed to reach the desired moistness.  Chill for a few hours before serving. 

The fresh lemon juice makes a huge difference, makes it taste so fresh.  The beauty of this dish is you can put anything in it.  If you are grilling chicken for dinner, throw a few extra on for this salad.  If not, pick up a rotisserie chicken and put that in.  Or skip the chicken all together.  I've made it with left over smoked turkey from a BBQ restaurant, it was awesome. 

Add whatever roasted veggies you had for dinner.  Broccoli and asparagus would both be great.  You can also put in roasted red peppers.  Grape or cherry tomatoes are a good addition too.  This can honestly become a "clean out the fridge" recipe.  I hope you'll try it.

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