Thursday, June 28, 2007

Presto Pasta Night: Backpacker's Pasta Salad

It is hot here. I mean hot and nasty humid here. Yesterday it was almost 100 degrees with 82% humidity, the day before was almost as hot and humid and we have at least one more day to go of this stuff. I have no air conditioning here in Fairfield, so needless to say, the idea of heating up the room with any serious microwave cooking is not appealing (yes, the microwave heats up the room. There is an exhaust fan to dissipate heat built up inside the cooking compartment on all microwaves). All this means, I've been eating a lot of cold cereal and fruit for dinner the past few days.

Last night I wanted a nice pasta salad and since I've been working late to take advantage of air conditioning in the office, by the time I left the office the store I would have bought my pasta salad from had closed. So, I stopped by the big chain grocery store to scout out my options for pasta salad. They were non-existent except for this nasty looking macaroni salad at deli counter. Resigning myself to another night of cold cereal, I headed towards the door. On my way out, I walked by a big display of boxes of pasta salad

and I was struck with an idea of how I could make pasta salad in my room without having to resort to using the microwave. I would use a backpacking trick to soften pasta using luke warm water and letting the pasta soak for about 30 minutes or so.

Purchasing the box of pasta salad, a can of chopped ham, and some frozen peas, I hurried home. The contents of the box included a package of dried pasta mixed with dehydrated peas and carrots and a seasoning package. All you have to add is 1/2 a cup of mayonnaise, which I decided my light Miracle Whip would be a fine substitute. I dumped the pasta package into my 2 quart casserole dish

and got 2 cups of hot water from the bathroom sink. I poured the water on top of the pasta, added about a cup of the frozen peas, put the lid on the casserole dish and went out on the front porch of my boarding house to read. About forty minutes later I returned to find almost all the water had been absorbed by the pasta and it was perfectly al dente.

Next I added the chopped ham

And finally, using the light Miracle whip and only half the seasoning packet (pretty high in sodium, so I'll save the rest of it for another use), some shredded cheese, and faster than you can say "Presto Pasta", I had a nice, cool and tasty pasta salad for dinner.

It was perfect with a glass of cold wine while I sat in front of my fan reading and listening to the thunder.

Don't forget to head over to hostess and founder of Presto Pasta Night, Ruth's Once Upon A Feast tomorrow for the Presto Pasta Round-Up!