Prepare "Pasta Perfection" for easy Christmas dinner side

pasta platter

Carolyn’s was much prettier than this stock photo, and mine will look better on Ruthie’s platter!

At last, Carolyn sent her pasta recipe. I’m sure I’ve seen similar recipes in all my cookbooks, but never actually followed the instructions. This time I’m following hers to a tee. But first, I must run out and buy a Vidalia Onion Chopper.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it in advance, and I think it tastes better the next day. It may be served cold or warm by heating in the microwave.

I’ve named this “Carolyn’s pasta perfection.”

She wrote: “Cook about half a box of any kind of mini pasta and let it cool (She used the corkscrews.) I use a Vidalia Onion chopper (as seen on TV) – the small blade and chop a red, green and yellow bell pepper, one small onion, small cucumber and two boiled eggs.” This is key because the tiny vegetables are infused throughout the dish rather than big and chunky (and identifiable).

“Pour about a third of a small bottle of zesty Italian Dressing over this and mix well. Put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, cut in thirds cherry tomatoes add about half a small bag of any kind of cheese and enough mayonnaise to make it moist. Mix well and but back in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

In the hot summer my family likes cubed ham mixed in and I serve it with a good glass of wine and french bread. (Of course they have no clue what’s in it or they wouldn’t touch anything with bell pepper. Have a Very Merry Christmas. Love you, Carolyn”

Thank you C! I’m thinking of adding some shrimp for my Christmas brunch. I must say her “half a box” went a long way…we all took some home and I ate mine for two days. This must be kind of like the loaves and fishes. To play it safe, I’ll cook the whole box.

6 thoughts on “Prepare "Pasta Perfection" for easy Christmas dinner side

  1. Think you have the right idea hiding in the rest of the food what your family won’t eat. My sister did that when her niece and nephew wouldn’t eat onions, and they were essential to the plot.. (the onions, not the kids!)as in dressing, for example. She just chopped it so fine they didn’t know why they couldn’t stop eating the stuff!!

    Now you have me thinking of ways to modify this recipe for the gluten free, dairy free, egg free diet. Hmmm.

    I would have to use rice pasta (a good one, not one of the older ones that tastes like paper). At least it does come in cork screws. (Don’t ask me how ya get it outa the cork screws!) Will just have to see if the rice pasta holds up in the frig. I will definitely be heating mine when it’s all done!

    Instead of cherry tomatoes, I could throw some fire roasted tomatoes chopped fine in with the other vegetables if I went with Meditarranean seasoning in olive oil for the dressing. I love the idea of using that Vadalia onion chopper for the other vegetables, by the way.
    I don’t remember ever having cukes in a hot dish before, but perhaps I just didn’t know what it was. I’m definitely going to look for that taste when I dive into this dish.

    I may go with Italian seasoning and the cherry tomatoes when I make it more Italian the first try, and it will be Drew’s Italian seasoning as it’s gluten and dairy free, and doesn’t list too many ingredients. (Don’t you hate it when the ingredients section looks like your chem lab supply list from college?)

    At least with the Mediterranean version, I’ll use lemon zest with the juice, and some capers and mixed olives cut into small pieces. Probably use some form of thin chicken pieces and throw all this stuff in with it during the cooking. This will help me get over the fact that I can’t have the mayo (eggs). Waaah!!

    What do ya’ll think I should add or leave out in a similar version, only using the Italian dressing? Should I leave out the lemon zest and juice?
    What about the capers and olives?

    How would toasted pine nuts be in either the Italian version or the Mediterranean versions? Actually, I fix chicken the Mediterranean way quite often, and never even thought of cutting all these veggies up fine and throwing them into a hot pasta salad before. Sometimes I love to throw in some fresh summer squash and zuccini or else fix the latter two with onions as a side dish when I’m doing it the usual way, but it all runs together on the plate anyway — yum! I also thought of throwing in some canned artichoke hearts without the juice as I often do with spagetti and meat sauce.

    Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated. For some things, by the way, I use fresh avocado as it gives me the same “mouth feel” as eggs and things. Unfortunately, it’s not always the right taste, but think I can come up with a good mixture using it in a salad some day. Will just have to experiment. Any ideas, again, would be appreciated. The more variety I can get in my diet (with it’s strict limitations) the easier it is.

    Just thought of something — parsley would give it a nice touch, and with avocado, a little cilantro might be nice. I’m not up on the use of mint in dishes. Would that be appropriate to add to a Mediterranean version of this pasta dish?

    Thanks for any ideas, ya’ll! Cuz

  2. Hmmm. pine nuts….great idea, just added them to my list. You know what, after you mentioned hot cucumbers, I’m thinking the dish shouldn’t be heated. Carolyn served it at room temp. I just heated up the left overs because – well, you’re just supposed to heat up leftovers. Still delicious.

    What a horrible thing to have to avoid gluten. All my favorite food groups have gluten. I’m glad that came down your side of the family instead of mine. (not serious, how hard it must be to find something to eat. Hope you have a Whole Foods in Houston (they call it “whole paycheck” in New Orleans) – pricey but I noticed they have a whole aisle devoted to gluten free items.

    So, can you have potatoes? I could live the rest of my life eating nothing buT potatoes, oh, and peanut butter, and chocolate.

  3. Em,

    Yes, potatoes and rice are fine. I’m fortunate that corn isn’t on my list as it’s a common one. Some people can’t have any grains. Lots of times I just fix a good entre’ and get my starch for that meal from regular vegetables. Can get more nutrients (more colored foods) down that way anyway. Other times, I’ll throw EVOO on a baked potato and top it with either a meat dish for a meal or else throw some rosemary on it with some S&P. It’s an easy side to make. I often will get a baked sweet potato when I eat at a local steak place that is very careful about contamination and doesn’t use injected meat. These sweet potatoes are sooo good that I usually just add a little salt and eat with a little juice running from the steak. Yum! They will even bring me a gf mustard with a little bowl of honey so I can mix my own dressing right at the table. I’m always careful about pre-made seasonings until I have more information from the manufacturer. Actually, I think this chain of steak places has already made their’s gf, but it’s just a habit not to use it when I eat there, so perhaps I should check on that again, and give it a try. The steaks are just so good that it really is delicious with nothing but S&P. Their own honey mustard dressing has some pre-made seasoning in it, and that’s why I mix my own. It’s really not all that difficult anymore, at least not in the city. Actually, I can eat alot more things than people think, because I do the shopping for the ingredients myself. It’s the restaurants that I don’t trust so much. The good ones generally have chefs who are very knowledgible about gluten, I’ve discovered, but not always.

    Yes, we have lots of Whole Foods stores in town. There’s a big one down the road in SugarLand, one in West University over by Rice U., and another just west of us, just to the northwest of Galleria, but the one I go to most often is the one in Bellaire. However, if I happen to be coming home from somewhere in one of these other areas, I’ll just stop off at the nearest one on the way home.
    I would be pretty much up a creek if I were to retire to the country. I’m so afraid of what will happen when I’m too old or infirm to care for (cook for) myself. There are some retirement communities close to gf restaurants in SugarLand, a branch of the hospital we use, and the great big Whole Foods, so that area is starting to look good to me now. Unfortunately, I probably wouldn’t be able to get what I need from the kitchen’s of either the hospital or the senior facilities, even in the nursing home. This is scary! Fortunately, many people only have the gluten to worry about, which is fairly easy to substitute for at home, at least.
    Thanks for your interest!
    Welp, if those cukes still tasted good warm, then I’m going to try it warm, at least the first time. It’s the COLD rice pasta that I’m wondering about — maybe for leftovers out of the frig later.
    You’ve certainly given me food for thought on this dish.

  4. I’m not sure I could survive as a non-glutenette. What about sugar, chocolate. I hope they are okay so long as they aren’t mixed with rice crisipies, right?

  5. I do fine with sugar and a certain kind of very good chocolate — helps that it’s kosher — no dairy, and it doesn’t lists soy as an ingredient, most likely because of it’s stated absence of lethicin which usually comes in the form of soy lethicin. Make sense? There aren’t many chocolates that don’t contain soy these days.

    Of course, neither dairy nor soy is a gluten, and for the purpose of gluten sensitivity, neither is rice or corn.

    Although rice is said to be glutenous, it’s not in the same genre as the protein fragments in wheat, barley, rye and in the USA, oats. Most oats in the USA are contaminated with wheat as they are grown near each other. A few places in the world, oats can be kept free of this contamination. As it turns out, only a fraction of celiacs actually react to a protein fragment in these pure oats, and that’s probably part of the reason that the medical establishment in Europe is much more liberal with oats on a a gf diet whereas in the USA, they are not recommended for celiacs and probably other gluten sensitive people.

    Most people who have one or two of several genes that can lead to either classical biopsy-proven celiac disease or another form of gluten sensitivity never develop the condition. Something has to trigger the body into attacking one’s own tissues whenever one eats these protein fragments for the genes to be harmful. Scientists think any one or a combination of things might possibly lead to triggering these genes into doing this, but there’s no proven cause as yet.

    Also, it’s not known as yet why when old blood samples from WWII military inductees are compared with people at the same ages today, there appears to be a 4 to 5 fold increase in the number of blood samples showing antibodies to the relevant tissues which were circulating in these people’s blood at the time the samples were drawn. This was not what researchers had expected to find when they went back and checked the blood from WWII. They had expected that the number of people with these antibodies would be approximately the same, and that that would indicate these people from WWII just never were diagnosed. Soooo, the question is, WHY has the incidence of this condition increased since WWII.

    My own theory is that there’s so much genetically modified protein that has been introduced since WWII that we are ingesting. No wonder our body’s recognize this stuff as foreign protein — it is! Why was there no testing on these foreign proteins before the public was sold it as food in the first place? Why does the general public think that the FDA is doing everything possible to protect their food supply?

    If your produce doesn’t deteriorate rapidly in your frig (the GMO stuff), then it’s not going to be digested quickly in your gut. Think about it.

    The vegetables that I have bought that I know are not GMO deteriorate much more rapidly in the frig than the same vegetables that I buy at the big discount grocery stores. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see something’s amiss here, does it?

    Soapbox over.

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