Summer is here, school is out, and one thing I do not want to do is spend all day inside. I often don’t even want to come back home in the middle of the day. That means I’m on the constant lookout for fun places to take a 4-year-old and two dogs with a comfortable spot to stop for lunch, and portable, nutritious, filling lunch foods. Last week, we went to Mondadnock Park in Arlington and brought pasta salad. And through a little packing mishap, we discovered that in addition to its other great qualities—can be made up to two days ahead, can be varied enormously to suit the season, fits into easily portable containers, can be repacked easily if you have to shift lunch locations—it is just fine as finger food.
Pasta Salad for 4
1 package of your favorite pasta
1 (8 oz) block mozzarella
½ cup basil
1 cup snap peas, broken in half if they’re big enough
3-4 green onions
Cook the pasta as directed. Drain and then rinse with cold water. Pour into a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with olive oil, and toss. Cut the cheese and veggies into ½” squares and add to pasta. Make about ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette and toss well. Store in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator 1-2 days. Even if you’re planning on same-day consumption, it’s best if the pasta salad marinates in the dressing for at least a few hours. When you first put it into the container and when you remove it from the fridge, turn it over several times to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed.
This recipe includes only veggies I found in my garden (basil and peas) or got at the CSA this week. In a few weeks, I’ll have cherry or grape tomatoes (halved) and green beans and a few weeks after that green and then red peppers (of course, somewhere in there the peas will no longer be available). And then in the fall, I can shift to fresh or roasted beets and shallots.