Quick and Easy Pasta Salads for Entertaining Guests
Entertaining guests whether it's family, friends or new acquaintances is a great way to socialize in the comfort of your own home. Or maybe you are going to someone else's home. Either way, it's always nice to have some food involved. And maybe a little wine. ;) This particular hub is for people who don't have a lot of time to prepare something or who want to throw something together that's fast, easy and fabulous. Because sometimes you also want to impress with less. About a month ago, my hubby and I made plans to have another couple over for dinner. I'm not exactly Susie homemaker, but I love to prepare good healthy food and I love to learn. Since it's summer, I thought that making a cold pasta dish would definitely do the trick. I love the idea of pesto with mozzarella cheese and I also love the idea of feta or goat cheese for a more Greek pasta dish. So I decided to make both, everyone loves variety! These two pasta dishes will definitely get people talking. The couple I served it to absolutely loved it and you will too. Whether you're making it for people at home or taking it to your family picnic or BBQ, you will quickly fall in love with these easy dishes. And soon you will be coming up with your own ingredients to add or subtract to the pasta which is just your base, the rest is up to you.
Step 1: Get to your favorite grocery store and pick up the following ingredients:
Pasta Dish #1: Mozzarella, Tomato and Pesto (try to use organic when possible)
16 oz uncooked penne pasta (I used organic pasta for this dish)
1 cup pesto sauce
1 cup small fresh mozzarella balls in olive oil (make sure you find the mozz balls marinated in olive oil, try looking in the fresh cheese section)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup organic baby spinach (optional)
Pasta Dish #2: Greek style using feta or goat cheese and spring mix lettuce
16 oz uncooked penne pasta (I used whole wheat pasta for this dish)
21/2 cups organic spring mix lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 jar kalamata olives (approx. 6 oz. or larger)
1 package of goat cheese or feta cheese (approx. 6 oz. or larger)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Step 2: Pesto Pasta Salad
Now that you have all your ingredients, it's time to mix it all up, let the fun begin! First you want to cook your pasta by boiling it in water on your stove, follow directions on your pasta box. You can do both pastas at the same time. When your pasta is done, drain water and then rinse with cold water to cool the pasta, then set aside. Once your pasta is cooled off, place in a large bowl, add the pesto and mix, then add the mozzarella balls with olive oil and then the cherry tomatoes. Easy, cheesy goodness! This is optional, but you can take the baby spinach and either mix it in, or place a bed of it on the bottom of your guests plates for added nutrition and decoration. ;)
Tips: place the pasta in the fridge before serving to get it nice and cold. Also you may want to stir it before serving because the pesto tends to turn a little dark when not eaten right away.
Step 3: Greek style pasta
After your pasta for this dish is rinsed off and cooled, place in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the rest of your ingredients, spring mix lettuce, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives (make sure to cut these into 2 or 4 pieces and watch out if they have pits). If you are using feta cheese, most likely it is already crumbled. If using goat cheese, you may need to crumble yourself. Add your minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil and then some salt and pepper to taste if you'd like. Add those ingredients to your cooled pasta and you're done!