Nelly once rapped “Sweat, wet, gettin hot up in this joint”, welcome to Summer! With that comes the time to make recipes that won’t heat up my 100 year old Portland four square house basically no use of the oven…we still haven’t bit the bullet and got central air yet. Part of me feels like my PDX lifestyle would lose a bit of grit in the process if I start refrigerating the air, then again I think I need to soften my persona a bit anyhow….soooo…next home improvement is A/C!
I am going to start off by talking about the era in which this salad made an entrance into my life. I was in jr. high. I was a rather chunky, outgoing, social outcast, clad in ill fitting thrift store duds. Grunge was the buzzword du jour and I was stuck smack dab in the middle of my awkward formative years with GenX leading the path (I am oddly not quite a genxer but not quite a millennial…a “Genennial??)! I was active with a Masonic girls youth group and whenever we would have a potluck one of the moms would always present a version of this salad and it was always the first bowl empty. Not only is this salad delicious, it is simple to prepare with the help of our secret weapon: “salad supreme seasoning” , it and “lemon pepper” were (and are still in many homes) all the rage in spice blends. I used Johnny’s salad elegance it’s a local version whose company is based in the PNW, but you can use one of the other varieties, the original I remember being “McCormick’s”. This seasoning has poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salty Parmesan or Romano, paprika, and other stuff including a touch of MSG, which really isn’t as awful for you as it was made out to be, everything in moderation, it’s what gives food that umami that makes you want to dive in for more. You do actually get some vegetables with this one, and you can pick and choose to your liking. Mine had:
1 lb Angel hair pasta (sub in any kind of pasta)
4 cups diced veggies:
I used bell peppers, shallots instead of traditional onions, olives, carrots. Other options: cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, zucchini, really whatever is fresh and in season would be good bets, I would include the onions of some sort as they add a certain zest. But for folks who hate onions, you can leave them out with good results.
1 cup of olive oil
½ cup of vinegar, choose your own adventure here, plain old white vinegar works great, or go for red wine if you fancy.
¼ cup of salad supreme seasoning mix, sounds like a lot but trust me on this.
2 tsp sugar
I topped ours with fried salami cut into strips, kinda like a bacon-y vibe, you sure don’t have to add this especially if this is going along side whatever you be grillen and chillen on that day.
Cook your pasta in salted boiling water till just past al dente but not mushy, doing the longer suggested cooking time is a good way to do it. While the water is coming up to boil, chop your veggies and put in a large bowl. Mix up oil, vinegar, sugar,
and salad seasoning, mix well. When your pasta is done, drain it and rinse with cold water. Combine the pasta, veggies, and dressing and mix well. Serve chilled, can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight. Watch it magically disappear at your next potluck!