Creative Fresh Pasta Ideas for Summer
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There’s something in the air when the first days of summer roll around. Everyone is excited to plan some fun, and some good eating! The same standard pasta dishes we make all winter just won’t do when the days are hot and the nights are balmy. It’s time to get the creative juices flowing. We need to think fresh, both in ideas and ingredients.
Let’s take a look at how three simple ideas can help freshen up your time honored pasta traditions this summer.
- Be Creative
If any food can be thought of as ‘fun,’ pasta would fit the bill. There is so much versatility with pasta that there is no reason to be stuck in the “same old, same old” mode. For example, add some food coloring to the cooking water with the pasta. Experiment with this and have fun. Boil several pots with different colors and create your own rainbow palate of pasta. Try different shaped pasta, but remember that the larger heavier pastas won’t color as well as the smaller lighter styles.
For kids you might like to try this fun meal idea. Make a batch of green ‘wagon wheel’ pasta and toss together with diced fresh carrots to create a two color cold pasta dish kids will love. You might want to do a batch of red ‘wagon wheel’ pasta and toss with green sweet peas, flip-flopping the other color combination. Serve both cold pasta dishes and create an ‘opposite day’ meal. You might even get your kids to eat their vegetables when they’re in a salad surrounded by colorful pasta. Of course you can buy tri-color pasta, but making it at home is a great way to provide a little entertainment for the kids, as well as provide a healthy meal.
Colors are certainly fun, but what about flavors? We’re not talking about buying pasta in different flavors. We’re talking about imparting flavor into the pasta from the liquid they’re cooked in. Use good rich stock or broth, either chicken, or vegetable, or even beef. This is a great way to give pasta an extra flavor punch, but why stop there? Thin out some tomato juice with a little water and try that. How about lemon juice?
And don’t forget that just by adding vegetables or fruit to the cooking water you will impart those flavors into the pasta. Spinach is the first one that comes to many people’s mind, but don’t stop there. Consider the entire produce section and have fun! And why even stop there? What about wine or beer? Who knows, maybe Guinness Spaghetti will be the next big hit with your friends.
- Be Fresh
The rest of the year may be all about rushing around trying to keep our schedules straight, but during the summer, time just seems to slow down. We move a little slower, take time to enjoy the splendor of a beautiful day, consider our health and well being as top priority for a change.
Summertime is a great time to reconsider what we put into our pasta dishes. Sure, it may be super easy to buy a jar of pasta sauce, but why not take the extra time and create our own with fresh produce? After all, the ingredients are right there, hanging from the vine or fresh at the market.
Using fresh ingredients in our pasta dishes gives us a whole new outlook on our healthy eating habits. Not only does it brighten up the dish, but cooking with fresh ingredients makes us feel strong and in control. We know we are eating right, and feeding our family right.
- Be Safe
Food safety is a concern, always, but especially during the summer. The main culprit causing the concern is the food served at picnics and cookouts. Pasta salads are a favorite, but since many of these dishes are made with mayonnaise, sour cream, or yogurt, they are naturally suspect in warm weather conditions.
Spoilage happens when these types of salads get warm sitting out on the picnic table. The best and simplest solution is to skip the creamy salads entirely. During the summer, opt for vinaigrette style dressings. These are the oil and vinegar type of dressing which are normally whisked together with other seasonings and ingredients that do not need constant refrigeration. When creating your pasta salad to serve at a picnic, just keep this simple tip in mind: if you wouldn’t leave a particular ingredient on your kitchen counter, don’t put it in your salad.
Even salads made with all spoil-resistant foods still need to be kept as cold as possible. When transporting the salad, keep it in an insulated cooler with ice. When you put the salad on the table, set it in a larger bowl or tray filled with ice, and keep the entire set-up covered with aluminum foil to hold in the cold. With these few safety precautions, your salad will be safe to eat. And with all your creativity, your salad will also be fun to eat.
During the warm summer months, as you are trying to think of something to bring to the picnic, consider a delicious pasta salad. Have fun with creative ideas, use fresh ingredients, and keep safety in mind. With these three tips, you’ll be able to enjoy a different fun pasta salad at every picnic!