Monday, June 18, 2012

It's Summer Salad Time!

During the winter I am all about sticking to a meal plan and making sure that the meals I serve are carefully thought out and shopped for.  I plan and prep and it seems like some days are spent entirely in the kitchen or grocery store..

Once the warm weather hits I tend to throw caution to the wind and meal planning goes out the back door so to speak.  The days are longer and spent outside by the pool, so during the summer my fridge and freezer are stocked with burgers and hot dogs, steaks and boneless chicken breasts.  After being cooped up inside during the winter there is nothing better than throwing something on the grill and dining al fresco!

I have tons of "salads" in my repertoire from pasta to veggie to cold noodle to spinach....the list goes on and on.  And each summer there tends to be one salad that becomes our favorite and winds up in our weekly rotation.  

Last summer it was this Tangy Southwest Pasta Salad that I came up with.  My family loves anything with a Southwest or Mexican flair to it so I knew this one would be a hit.  I'm pretty sure I made this at least once a week last summer!

We actually had this last night when we grilled burgers and hot dogs for Father's Day. I also made a super yummy Cucumber Salad (I'll post that recipe later on) and between the 5 of us the bowl was pretty much half gone.  I'd say that's a winner in our house!

Here's the recipe:

Tangy Southwest Pasta Salad
Serves 10-12

1 lb. wheel shaped pasta, cooked and drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained (or 1 can works fine too!)
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeño pepper with seeds removed, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar (I use the equivalent of a sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, corn, peppers and black beans. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Doesn't this look yummy???

There you have it, a super easy southwest inspired pasta salad.  Hopefully, you will find time to work this recipe into your meal rotation.

It is important to note that when cutting the jalapeño pepper you should either wear gloves or wash your hands very well before touching your eyes.  Trust me on this burns!  Also, the heat of the pepper is in the seeds so be sure to remove them to avoid something super hot.

So, my meal plan for this summer is to keep the fridge and freezer stocked with plenty of stuff to grill and lots of fresh veggies on hand to whip up a salad or two each week.  Ah.....the lazy days of summer!!!