Due to the heat – and our desire to continue fitting into our favorite bathing suit – we all like light meals for the summer.  Here are a couple of pasta dishes you can prepare quickly, for a side dish, main meal, or to bring to a potluck!

Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of a pasta such as penne, farfalle or fusilli
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 whole large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar (15.5 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shavings
  • Finely minced parsley
  • Chopped fresh basil (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until starting to soften. Add chopped red peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until hot.
  3. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully transfer contents to a food processor or blender. Puree the pepper mixture until totally blended (there will still be some texture to the peppers).
  4. Heat the other 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat. Pour the pepper puree back into the skillet. Add broth, salt, and pepper, and stir until heated. (You can add about 1/2 cup cream if you want, but I prefer to leave it out for a lighter sauce)
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings if you need to.
  6. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet. Add Parmesan and parsley/basil, then stir it together to coat the pasta.

Some like it hot. Some like it cold.

The Best Macaroni Salad

I love this recipe from The Pioneer Woman – especially all the added pickle flavor.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups elbow macaroni
  • 3 whole roasted red peppers, chopped (more to taste, can also use pimentos)
  • 1/2 cup black olives, chopped fine
  • 6 whole sweet/spicy pickle slices, diced (about 1/2 cup diced)(plus some of the juice from the jar)
  • 3 whole green onions, sliced (white and dark green parts)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp red wine or distilled vinegar
  • 3 tsp sugar, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  • Plenty of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni in lightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.
  2. Mix mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Splash in enough milk to make it pourable. Add pickle juice for extra flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Place cooled macaroni in a large bowl and pour 3/4 of the dressing. Toss and add more dressing if you’d like. The dressing will seem a little thin, but it will thicken up as salad chills.
  4. Stir in olives, roasted red peppers (or pimentos), pickles, and green onions. Add more of any ingredient if you like. At the end, splash in a little more pickle juice and stir.
  5. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with sliced green onion to serve.

And I personally think cold pasta salads taste better the next day and the day after that!

photo credit: lynn.gardner via photopin cc