For many, Labor Day means an extra day off of work. For me, Labor Day signifies the closing of summer. It also presents a great opportunity to fire up the grill before the weather starts to change and enjoy a picnic with my family and friends. My family celebrates three birthdays around Labor Day so we always make it a point to use our day off to celebrate the holiday and birthdays with a picnic. Everyone brings a dish to pass and while we all spoon heaps of food onto our plates we celebrate the lives of three very special people. I always tend to resort to pasta salad as my dish to pass. One of the things that I love about pasta salad is that it is so versatile. You can pick from a huge assortment of ingredients and easily whip them together to form a delicious side dish. A favorite of mine is an Italian-style pasta salad that combines the flavors of roasted red peppers with meat and cheese. I recently tested this combination out at a family dinner and there was not even a drop of dressing left in the bowl. I really think even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy this.
If you’re looking to venture out on your own and try your hand at pasta salad creations there are just a few pointers and steps to keep in mind. Obviously choosing a fun pasta shape as your base is the most important. I like to choose a shape with a lot of ridges and crevices so that the dressing and veggies get stuck inside. Next, choose 3-5 key ingredients that will be the major add-ins for your salad. Vegetables, meat & poultry, seafood or cheeses all count as a major add-in. You will also want to choose an intense flavor such as goat cheese, spicy peppers or olives. These should be used more sparingly than your major add-ins. Finally you’ll want to add in onions and lots of herbs. I tend to favor shallots as they offer a milder flavor, and I like to use a variety of different Litehouse Instantly Fresh Herbs. My favorite is the Instantly Fresh Salad Herb Blend because it already offers a delicious combination of herbs, garlic and onion.
If you already have Labor Day picnic plans and are looking for a dish to pass, take a stab at your own pasta salad. Fresh and roasted vegetables, olives, meats and cheeses and a drizzle of any Litehouse Vinaigrette can all come together to form a delicious side. And if you don't currently have plans for the holiday, why not start your own tradition this year by inviting your friends and family over for a picnic, asking them all to bring a dish to share? I've always held the belief that food is a good way to bring family and friends together. So is an extra day off of work.