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Pasta salad keeps summer meals cool

It’s just way too hot to cook dinner. Or lunch, or even anything that resembles a hot meal.

With this thermonuclear summer, I’m voting for cold pasta salads to take over the main-course portion of our meals. Preferably those “put everything into one bowl, mix it all together and slap it on the table, don’t judge me” recipes so that you can make it in the morning when it’s cooler, clean up your mess and then just pull it out of the refrigerator when the temp hits that 100-degree mark.

One of the questions I get asked all the time about pasta is, “should I rinse it after I cook and drain it?” The answer is yes and no. If you’re making a hot dish, don’t rinse it after you drain it. If you’re making a cold salad, yes, rinse it after you drain it.

Many of the following recipes have interchangeable ingredients. If you don’t like cooked chicken, use grilled salmon. A hot sauce fan? Splash away.

Greek-Inspired Pasta Salad

12 ounces twist or bowtie pasta, cooked according to the directions, drained and rinsed

8 ounces fresh spinach, torn

2 cups garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

12 to 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3 to 4 green onions, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix to combine; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Top with the grated cheese. Serves 6 to 8.

Ziti and Turkey Pasta Salad

12 ounces ziti pasta, cooked according to the package, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 pounds smoked turkey (deli meat or leftovers), cubed

1 large red bell pepper, cut in bite-sized pieces

1 large green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 large red onion, coarsely chopped

1 cup sweet pickle relish with juice

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 1/3 cups mayonnaise

2/3 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon and 1/4 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 to 6 pieces of cooked bacon or turkey bacon, crumbled

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked pasta, turkey, cut peppers, onion, 1/2 cup relish and tomatoes. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, bouillon powder, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and 1/2 cup of relish. Process until smooth. Gently fold the dressing into the salad and mix to combine.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, sprinkle the crumbled bacon on the top and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Citrus and Chicken Pasta Salad

2 pounds cooked chicken (cubed)

3 cups corkscrew pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups celery, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin

1 cup pineapple pieces, drained

1 1/2 to 2 cups mandarin orange segments, drained

2 kiwi peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup oil

2 tablespoons rice wine or apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup slivered almonds (toasted)

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, pasta, celery, onions, pineapple, oranges and kiwi. Mix to combine and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, orange juice and mustard. Process the dressing until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the almonds on top. Serves 6 to 8.

Shrimp Pasta

3/4 cup orange or grapefruit juice

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

12 ounces bowtie, rotini or curly pasta, cooked according to package directions, rinsed

1 1/2 pounds cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped red bell sweet pepper

1 cup chopped black olives, drained

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Durkee Fried Onions

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine fruit juice, oil, honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well to mix.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, shrimp, celery, onion, red bell pepper and olives. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the cut tomatoes on the top of the salad, then pour the vinaigrette over the top. Mix to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 to 6 hours for the flavors to meld. Stir before serving and sprinkle the fried onions on top. Serves 10 to 12.

– Submitted by Alan Marston of Indianapolis Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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