Creamy Pasta Salad

Whenever Anita and I go antiquing we like to pack a light lunch for the trip. Taking our lunch instead of eating out means that way we maximize our antiquing time. But just because lunch is hauled in a cooler doesn’t mean that it’s going to be boring. I made a few fantastic Italian cold-cut wraps and this absolutely delicious creamy pasta salad for our last trip. We both could’ve eaten the salad all afternoon long, but that would’ve meant little time for looking for antiques! Perfectly creamy, with a little crunch from the onion, peas and pickles. Oh, and cheese.
Creamy Pasta SaladFor a great twist on this creamy pasta salad substitute chopped green or black olives for the diced pickles. Another great change is to use smoked cheddar cheese instead of extra sharp cheddar.

This salad is even better (I wouldn’t have thought it could be any better!) the next day.

Creamy Pasta Salad

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 7 ounce block of extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickles diced
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion diced
  • 1 4 ounce jar pimentos, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta per package instructions. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to cool.
  • Add the peas, cheese, pickles, onion and pimento and fold to combine.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, cream, mustard and sugar. Fold into the pasta mixture.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Caribbean Shrimp Pasta

I love Louisiana gulf shrimp. Nothing tastes better, in my opinion, and it’s night-and-day different than the ‘other’ shrimp you get in your grocer’s freezer. It’s probably sacrilege then to have used a bottled salsa in this dish, but time was of the essence the night I made it. And I was very happy with the end result. This Caribbean shrimp pasta tastes and feels light despite having a bit of cream added in. The cilantro, avocado and peach mango salsa give it that fresh, tropical feel.
Caribbean Shrimp PastaYou could easily make this a completely different dish just by using a different fruit salsa, such as citrus pineapple, or mango and habanero.

Also try my Caribbean jerk chicken pasta.

Caribbean Shrimp Pasta

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 -5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds 20-24 count wild caught Louisiana shrimp peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth 1 small can
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • I 16 ounce jar Pace Peach Mango salsa
  • 1/2 pound your favorite dried pasta angel hair, linguini, etc
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 avocado diced

Instructions

  • Place the shrimp into a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle some of the flour over the shrimp and toss to coat. Continue adding flour and tossing the shrimp until they are coated and are no longer sticky.
  • Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shrimp but do not overlap them. If you have to, work in batches.
  • Cook the shrimp about 2 minutes per side until they are pink and the coating has started to crust. Flip and cook the other side until pink and the coating crusts. Remove to a plate.
  • Add the broth to the skillet then stir in the cream, salsa and pasta.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through.
  • Add the shrimp and remove from heat. Stir and serve topped with avocado and cilantro.

Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup

I thought this slow cooker tortellini soup was absolutely fantastic. The sauce was perfect. Nice and tomato-y. But the big hit for me was the tortellini. It absorbed some of the great sauce and became great little scrumptious bites. I used fresh tortellini, but frozen would work just as well. So would ravioli.

Sprinkled with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan, this soup was the ideal dish on a cool day.
Slow Cooker Tortellini SoupFennel can be a little too strong (that licorice flavor can drown out everything!), so use as much or as little as you like. Or not. And don’t be afraid to add a few splashes of hot sauce or a good amount of dried red pepper flake for some kick.

Also try my slow cooker spicy kielbasa cabbage soup. Perfect on a cool day.

Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup

Course Main
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef or substitute ground Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 can 10.75 ounces tomato condensed soup
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds optional
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt adjust to preference
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 package 16 ounces or 1 pound frozen cheese filled tortellini
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parsley optional
  • Toppings: freshly grated Parmesan cheese large spoonful of ricotta cheese

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, crumble and brown the ground beef until cooked through. Add the onion and garlic in the last few minutes of the cooking. They don't need to cook or get all the way tender, I just like them to have a little bit of that "skillet-cooked" flavor.
  • While the beef is cooking, pour the crushed tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato condensed soup in the slow cooker. No need to drain any of the cans!
  • Add in the sugar and seasonings - the dried basil, fennel, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • I loved the amount of seasoning in this soup, but definitely adjust these seasonings to your personal preference. You can always start with less seasoning and add more.
  • Stir in the cooked ground beef with onions and garlic. Add in the beef broth (I dissolved beef bouillon cubes into boiling water).
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-7 hours.
  • About 15-20 minutes before you are ready to serve, pour the frozen tortellini's into the soup. Turn the slow cooker up to high (or leave it if it was already on high) and let the tortellini cook.
  • Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a large spoonful of ricotta cheese (I love stirring these cheeses in - SO good), any extra seasonings you want, and some freshly chopped parsley.