Summer is in full swing and we are all ready to get outside and play! How about a family picnic?
This pasta salad takes advantage of the latest innovation in the frozen vegetable aisle -- in-the-package steaming. Place the entire package in the microwave and cook according to the manufacturer's directions. The bag puffs up as it steams the veggies, and secret, clever vents in the plastic wrap prevent explosions! The vegetables are piping hot (For real. Handle carefully!) and perfectly steamed.
Although the salad comes together in a snap, you do need to plan ahead; the flavors improves significantly if allowed to mingle in the fridge for a few days before the picnic.
Frozen vegetable retain most of the nutritional value of fresh ones (possibly more, since we often can't be sure when the vegetables at the supermarket were picked for shipment). Their convenience is obvious, and great improvements in flavor and texture have been made in recent years. The faded, boiled side dish of yesterday is gone. Vegetables, fresh or frozen, are easy and quick to steam and look and taste so much better. Busy folks can easily include them at mealtime.
This recipe serves four, but, of course, can be easily increased for a crowd.
Citrus Pasta Salad
2 cups cold, cooked whole-wheat pasta. (Whatever kind you like, but a pasta with lots of curves and swirls, like rotini or shells, will hold the dressing better. This is a great use for leftover pasta.)
One 12-ounce (340 grams) bag frozen "steamer" spring-mix vegetables in a citrus sauce, or no sauce at all. (I used Season's Choice brand, but there are many others.The vegetables should include snap peas and asparagus. Avoid mixes in a buttery or cheese sauce for this recipe.)
1 Tablespoon orange juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon low-fat raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
1 Tablespoon mint, coarsely chopped or snipped with kitchen shears
Fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Cook the vegetables in the microwave according to the package directions. Mix with the cold pasta, juice concentrate, and salad dressing. Add a little fresh-ground black pepper and snips of fresh mint. Chill. Make 24 to 48 hours in advance, to allow the flavors to marry.