Perfectly Pleasing Pasta Salads

Caprese Pasta Salad
Via Simply Scratch

Summer is almost here!  Are you in need of some new recipes?  These pasta salads are just the thing!  They are great crowd pleasers for your next summer bbq.  They also make for a nice cool meal when the temperature rises.  Enjoy!

Caprese Pasta Salad
Yield: 6 servings 
Prep time: 20 minutes 
Cook time: 9 minutes {for the pasta} 
Total time: 30-35 minutes

2 cups dried Orecchiette Pasta, cooked as directed on the package
1 pint Grape Tomatoes, quartered
1 container Fresh Mozzarella Pearls {or 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed small}
1 cup Fresh Basil, sliced into ribbons
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

For the balsamic vinaigrette:
2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoons Olive Oil

In a small bowl squeeze two cloves of garlic through a garlic press. Pour in balsamic vinegar and whisk. Continue to whisk while slowly, pouring in the three tablespoons of olive oil in steady stream.

Cook orecchiette pasta according to package directions. Drain and then rinse with cold water. Add the cold pasta to a bowl along with the quartered tomatoes, fresh mozzarella pearls and basil ribbons.

Season with kosher salt and black pepper and drizzle with desired amount of the balsamic vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste preference before serving!

Oriental Chicken Pasta Salad
Via Baked in AZ

Oriental Chicken Pasta Salad
1 box bow tie pasta
3 to 4 chicken breast or a rotisserie chicken
lemon pepper, to taste
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
bag of spinach

For the dressing:
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
3 Tablespoons dried parsley
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the almonds:
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375. Season the chicken with lemon pepper. Bake for 1 hour or until done. If using a rotisserie chicken, pull chicken off and put in a bowl, then sprinkle with lemon pepper.  While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing.

For the dressing: Add all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until combined. Put in the fridge.

Cook the pasta according to al dente directions rinse and set aside. Slice the peppers. When the chicken is done, let cool then slice into small pieces. In a very large bowl (or 2 bowls if you don’t have one big enough) toss the pasta, spinach, peppers, chicken & dressing. Top with the candied almonds & additional sesame seeds if desired.

For the almonds: In a non-stick skillet melt the butter over medium-low heat. Then add the sugar and almonds cooking just until a light golden brown. Quickly remove from the heat and set on a paper towel until cooled. Be careful not to burn them.

Notes: If making this ahead of time. Store the ingredients in separate containers in the fridge and toss all together just before serving. 

Creamy Summer Pasta Salad
Via Barefeet in the Kitchen

Creamy Summer Pasta Salad
Yield: 6 servings

Salad Ingredients:
8 ounces salad macaroni
1 cup tiny broccoli florets
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup very thinly sliced green onion

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons white wine or plain vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks. Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds and then drain everything into a large colander. Rinse well with cold water.

Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat. Add the cucumber, pepper, and onions and stir again. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving. Enjoy!

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