Summer has officially graced us with its presence this year and so have the no-bake recipes in my kitchen. The heat can be nice for short dresses and barbeques but my kitchen is unforgiving once I turn on my vintage stove amidst 90-degree temperatures. So, I’ve began making summer-friendly dishes that either requiring no oven use or very little of it.
My first no-bake recipe is a take on classic pasta salad but with my own “Maren” twist. I call it Summer Picnic Pasta Salad. It’s the perfect family-style pasta salad to bring to a picnic or barbeque, plus I’ve added some healthy and easy to find products from my local Trader Joe’s to make it easier for your one-stop shopping ingredient list. Isn’t Trader Joe’s the best?!
Last time I was in Trader Joe’s I discovered Riced Cauliflower, which is nothing but finely chopped cauliflower, so I tried it to save me on prep time, plus it’s loaded with calcium. I also added some cooked egg whites and salami (aka Trader Giotto’s Calabrese Salame) for extra protein in this dish. Have you ever tried Girard’s light Champagne dressing? I’m obsessed with it; it’s bright and flavorful and it complements all the ingredients in this pasta salad so well. You could substitute a light Italian dressing if you can’t find the Girard’s dressing.
This recipe is perfect if you’re serving a group of 8 to 10 people, however I made a big batch for my husband and I for a weekend picnic and then ate the leftovers for lunch throughout the week! I switched it up by tossing in some arugula for extra greens, along with some chopped chicken right before I ate it one day. That’s the best part about pasta salad – it’s so versatile! Anyway, I hope you get a chance to make Summer Picnic Pasta Salad; it’s a great excuse to grab some friends, bust out the picnic basket, drink some cold white wine and enjoy the summer days!
1. Cook pasta according to the directions, al dente, then rinse under cold water for 15 seconds to cool it off.
2. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl and add cauliflower, olives, salami, cheese, egg whites, grape tomatoes and basil.
3. Top with dressing (shake dressing before pouring), and toss all ingredients until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like a “wetter” consistency, feel free to add additional dressing. If I don’t serve my pasta salad immediately, I will re-fresh it with a few splashes of dressing and another toss once I remove it from the refrigerator before serving.