Pasta Salads for the Waning Days of Summer
It's still hot out there in some parts, but there's no denying we're in the waning days of summer. But we're still hooked on salads, and that's where pasta salads come in. Contrary to popular opinion, pasta salads are not traditionally Italian. They're an American innovation, just like Pasta Primavera; although they've become a part of the Italian repertoire. What makes pasta salads great is that they can be prepared in advance, so they're great for outings and picnics. They make good party food; and you can feed lots of people for minimal expense.
Any pasta type or shape can be used for these salads. A favorite has always been soba buckwheat noodles, cooked, drained, and tossed with toasted sesame seeds, a little soy sauce, scallions, and dash of sesame oil. This gives an Oriental twist; and it can be served hot or cold. Two recipes for Simple Pasta Salad and Pasta Salad with Chicken or Turkey are more traditional pasta salads. One is a simple salad perfect for summer: just red tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, parsley, and a plain vinaigrette of olive oil and vinegar. The second recipe includes cooked chicken or turkey along with other vegetables and white beans.
The fun with pasta salads is that you can experiment and use whatever combination fits, even adding seafood such as canned tuna or any other type of cooked fish, even mussels. You are only limited by your imagination. The one thing to remember is never to soak the cooked pasta in cold water. This makes the pasta soggy, and you don't want that. Simply cook the pasta al dente (to the tooth), and drain it thoroughly. Just toss the pasta with whatever dressing desired. However, if you're using mayonnaise, it's best to wait until the pasta has cooled before adding the mayo, or the mayonnaise may spoil. Other than that, go at it.