This rainbow pasta salad doesn’t need a recipe

Pasta salad is the perfect canvas for your favorite veggies, cheeses, meats and dressings.

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While I love mayo in egg and potato salads, I am Team Vinaigrette when it comes to pasta salad.

Reader Susan Abraham would agree. She wrote to me about her favorite spring recipe: a rainbow pasta salad with a light Italian dressing.

“What I like best about this recipe is that it really isn’t one, in the sense of specific proportions or even ingredients — other than your favorite pasta, of course,” she wrote.

This could be a meal on its own or a side dish for hefty barbecue fare. (Speaking of barbecue: Check out Quil Ceda Creek Casino’s burger recipe. It’s loaded with bacon, a homemade thousand island dressing, cheddar and a fried egg. This light pasta salad would go perfectly with Quil Ceda’s monster of a burger.)

Rainbow Pasta Salad

Prepare your dressing of choice. Susan recommends the Good Seasons Italian dressing mix: It’s quick and easy, plus it “doesn’t hide either the colors or the flavors of the ingredients,” she wrote.

You could also mix together lemon juice, zest, olive oil and fresh herbs like basil, parsley and dill. Go the mustard route for a nice dijon vinaigrette. Or make a simple balsamic dressing with your choice of herbs. Either way: Boom. You have a dressing that’s flavorful, light and zingy. Cook your favorite pasta (Susan recommends Torino rainbow farfalla) until al dente, then rinse in cold water. Transfer the pasta into your favorite salad bowl and add your choice of cooked meats and fresh veggies, chopped into nice small cubes. Susan’s favorites are green onion, celery and colorful bell peppers; I also love blanched or grilled asparagus, cherry tomatoes, carrots and radishes. By the way, this is a great dish for incorporating your farmers market finds (or using up veggies that have been sitting in the fridge for a while.)

Throw in cheese like cheddar, feta, shredded parmesan or mozzarella, if you like. For meat, Susan likes cubed ham, baby shrimp and/or bacon. Mix it all up and toss with the dressing.

Susan suggests serving the pasta salad with generous helpings of crusty French bread, sunshine and blue sky.

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