As the weather begins to warm up, I can't help but think about all the picnics, parties and family get-togethers I look forward to this time of year. With all those invitations, eventually comes the task of what to bring to feed all those people? Even when it was just my husband and I, we struggled to come up with cost effective ways to feed party guests without breaking our budget. Now that I am a new mom, finding budget friendly meals becomes all the more important.
Enter our garden! What better way to discover inspiration than right within your own backyard!
For a while now, I have been growing our own food on our patio in containers due to our small space. I primarily grow herbs, tomatoes and peppers, which are great foundations to any recipe. It just so happens that we had an upcoming family birthday party and I was asked to bring a dish. While my mom doesn't cook as much anymore, she has left me a legacy of recipes that I can defer to in a pinch. One of her classic and super-simple recipes was her Quick Italian Pasta Salad.
Like many recipes out there, this one requires only a few simple ingredients from your garden and a few fillers from your local grocery store. You can keep this recipe small or, like my mom always did, it can go big! Here is the foundation of the recipe:
Quick Italian Pasta Dish
1 16 oz. box of elbow macaroni
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, left whole or sliced in half
1-2 peppers diced
1 cucumber diced
1 small can sliced black olives
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ bottle of light Italian salad dressing
Wash and prepare tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers. Open and drain olives. Set vegetables and olives aside. Next, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot; cook for 8 to 12 minutes until al dente and drain. Let cool. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the Italian dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and peppers. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over mixture and gently stir into the salad. Cover, and refrigerate until serving.
That's all there is to this super-simple pasta salad. It's very easy to make and can feed a lot of people without empting your wallet.
What are you making at your next gathering? Feel free to share some of your favorite recipes in the comments below.