Ask any San Diegan if she has air conditioning, and the response is always the same: “No, it’s only hot here a few weeks a year.” Truth be told, I’m a total heat wimp, because my air has been running off and on since February, and there’s no end in sight. Call it global warming if you will, but my temperature is rising and there’s only one place I want to be: the beach.
Luckily, my friends and family are of the same mind set, which brings me to today’s recipe for pasta salad. Beach BBQs typically involve a potluck of some kind, and while I usually bring some version of my tabbouleh, I was beaten to the punch by my friend’s mother-in-law at our last BBQ, which sent me scurrying to the Internet to come up with another suitable side (green salad, my other signature salad, was also taken).
Pasta salad wasn’t really on my radar. In my mind, a pasta salad in languishing somewhere in the late ‘70s right next to a marshmallow Jell-O mold, cocktail weenies and pickles on toothpicks. But I readjusted my mind set, turned the air down a bit, and moved on.
Turns out, pasta salads are as hip as quinoa, if you know what you’re doing. Or if, in my case, you get help from The Kitchn, then find this awesome recipe by Emeril Lagasse and tweak it to make it your own. I nixed the olives and capers; both are way too salty for me. However, cooking the prosciutto over medium heat until crisp? Genius. And let’s just say, there may have been significantly less prosciutto making it into the salad than Emeril intended. My “test kitchen staff” (aka me and my husband) were both too enamored with the crispy prosciutto to stop “trying” it out. The dressing in the recipe isn’t anything to write home about (sorry, Emeril). Instead, use this recipe.
The pasta salad was a hit. One box of pasta is enough to feed 8-10 people, especially with other sides and salads. And if you happen to be eating this while wearing a bikini, even just a few bites will be so full of flavor that you won’t miss a larger portion.