Base Recipe: Pasta Salad

I’m a big fan of base recipes:   simple recipes that can be expanded based on what you have available, what season it is, and how far your budget is needing to be stretched or your belly shrunk at the moment.

Here’s a general-purpose pasta salad.  It’s good on its own:


  • 8 oz uncooked pasta, cooked and cooled down, any kind at all.  Don’t be in a hurry; you want your add-ons uncooked, and hot pasta would cook them.
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • 2 tbsp (or to taste, or none at all) balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • whatever you feel like stirring into it.
Those stir-ins might include tiny tomato halves, olives, slivered almonds, broccoli, onion, broccoli, small cubes of cheese … or for a really nice and very showy look, go instead for in-season citrus and add a bit of citrus juice to the liquid portion.  You can marinate cooked shrimp in the citrus juice beforehand and create a one-dish meal.
Likewise you can quickly grill little strips of tri-tip or my current favorite, hanger steak, and add a little mayo and some grill seasoning or southwest or Thai seasoning, and suddenly you’ve got an entirely different one-dish meal.
You can’t go wrong.



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