Saturday, July 4, 2015

All-American Pasta Salad

This dish is a fresh, cool, simple, make-ahead treasure for summer pot-luck dinners like the one we are attending tonight!

1 pound Penne pasta
8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese
1 jar diced pimentos
1 jar artichoke hearts
1/2 purple onion
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 green bell pepper
3 green onions
1 can sliced black olives

Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
2-3 tablespoons vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


  • Boil up the pasta to the al dente stage.  Drain, rinse, and set aside to cool.

    • Slice the Gouda cheese wheel in half and cut into pie shaped wedges.

    • Then, dice up those wedges into small bite-sized pieces.
    • Admire it just a bit because it is beautiful, fragrant, and good-a!  
    • Slice half the purple onion and dice the slices up into little yummy pieces. (Save the rest for salads later in the week ahead.)
    • Slice and dice half the green pepper and put the rest in the fridge for another recipe.
    • Pick three beautiful green onions from Mike's garden and wash them up in the sink.  Well, you might want to pick yours from somewhere else but make sure you wash them up somewhere.  Then, snip them up into tiny little pieces. Yep, the whole thing - green and white as well.
    • Drain the black olives in your favorite little colander spoon thingy.
    • Drain, rinse, and chop the artichoke hearts - right in the heart of them.
    • Rinse the grape tomatoes.  It's okay if you eat a couple, too.  Then, slice them in half.
    • Open the jar of diced pimentos and pat yourself on the back that you thought to get the diced ones which will save you a bit of chopping.
    • Plop each of the veggie pieces on top of the al dente pasta in a big old beautiful bowl.  Do it in an arranged way so that the colors look beautiful for a photo.
    • Now mix up a little tangy and sweet dressing for this beautiful concoction.  Start out with a cup of mayonnaise.
    • Add some home-made sweet pickle relish - about two tablespoons.  (If you don't have home-made relish, it will be okay to use some of the bought kind.)
    • Plop in a couple of tablespoons of red pepper jelly to add some tang to it.
    • Pour in a little bit of vinegar - two to three tablespoons.  I used some out of my home-made bread-and-butter pickles so it would have a bit more bite to it.  Then, stir all this together and admire the beautiful little flecks of wonderfulness inside.
    • Sprinkle in some salt and pepper to taste and plop this right smack dab in the center of the bowl of veggies and pasta.
    • Toss everything together making sure to coat all of it with a bit of the yummy dressing.
    • Cover with some clear plastic wrap so you can admire the colorful beauty of it as you set it in the fridge for all the flavors to marry together for a couple of hours or so.  Give it a quick, refreshing toss just before you serve it!
    (It is quite alright if you dish yourself up a spoonful to eat with some left-over chicken livers as a late lunch so long as nobody - well, at least Mike - knows.  After all, somebody has to taste it to make sure it is going to be alright for the pot-luck!)