Friday, September 23, 2011

The Unsuspecting Crowd

They say you should never serve something you haven't made before to guests at a party. . . . . After being invited to my nephews wedding (yeah!!) I asked if there was anything I could bring and I was assigned a salad. I chose to bring a pasta salad that I had tried recently at a neighborhood bar-b-que. I then started planning the salads I wanted to "try". I decided that if I had one that I was pretty sure would be eaten, then I could bring others that might actually be a flop ;-)

The nice thing about a Pasta salad is that each recipe is similar and you can exchange ingredients if you want. They all call for some shape of pasta, different add ins, and some kind of dressing. This one calls for Caesar dressing. and pine nuts. I haven't used either of those in a pasta salad before so I wanted to give it a try.

Tri Color Pasta Salad

12 oz. tri colored rotini, cooked and drained
3 roma tomatoes, diced I used grape tomatoes cut in half
1 can black olives, sliced
1/4 c. red onion, finely diced
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
6 fresh basil leaves, julienned
4 T. basil pesto I mixed it in with my dressing the first time I made it--forgot it the second time
2/3 c. creamy caesar dressing
1/2-1 c. pine nuts, toasted

Cook pasta and coat with Caesar dressing while warm. Add the rest of the ingredients (minus the pine nuts) and toss. Top with toasted pine nuts just before serving.

I didn't realize they would be serving fresh fruit or I wouldn't have done this next salad, but I was trying to think of something fun for those that might not be able to eat the pasta salad. This is one that I have wanted to try. Simple, but different. It is kind of like eating a helping of fruit (all grapes) with a yummy fruit dip slathered all over it.

Best Grape Salad

2 lbs. green seedless grapes these were sour so I only used red
2 lbs. red seedless grapes
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Topping ingredients
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. chopped pecans

Wash and stem grapes. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla until blended. Stir grapes into mixture, and pour in large serving bowl. For topping: Combine brown sugar, and pecans. Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely. Chill overnight

I wasn't sure about adding the topping, but if you got a bite with the brown sugar and pecans, it was definitely a bonus. I didn't use a cup of each. I just sprinkled some brown sugar on top (about a fourth of a cup) and then sprinkled pecans on top until it looked like enough.

This next recipe I have wanted to make for a long time. I bought the ingredients once before and chickened out. Even though I had tasted it, (just a bite) the list of ingredients do not sound like they would make something you would want to eat. After eating mine, I went back for more and it was gone! Several asked for the recipe! Don't be afraid to try this one. (In fairness, I will tell you that my husband did not like this one at all. He didn't like the flavor of the fritos)

Chili Cheese Frito Salad

3 (14 oz.) cans of corn, drained see note below
1/4 of a red pepper, diced
1/4 of a green pepper, diced
1/4 of a red onion, diced
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 (9 1/4 oz.) bag chili cheese fritos

Combine corn, peppers, onion, cheese and mayo in a bowl. Measuring is not really necessary in this recipe. Add each item until it looks like enough. I think I used more corn and peppers, but not as much cheese. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Just before serving, mix in the fritos. (I put my cheese in at this time also) Enjoy and eat it all. This does not make a good leftover because the fritos get soggy.

Note: I couldn't bear to use canned corn because I like the frozen sweet corn you can get at Costco or Sams (it tastes so fresh), so that is what I used. I cooked it in the microwave until it was warm so I could drain any moisture off of it. I then put it in the fridge and mixed in the other ingredients after it was cold again.

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