Pasta salad! This one is so filled with color, flavor and deliciousness that you’ll want to make it over and over again. It’s perfect to bring to your next picnic or pot luck or make it just for your family and enjoy the leftovers all week long. Toss in some shredded chickened you have lunch! It saves beautifully and you can even make it ahead of time. In fact, it gets better with a little time.
This past weekend was the Meyer Family Reunion, which is my Dad’s side of the family. My grandparents were of hearty German-Prussian stock; married in 1912 they had 7 boys over the course of 19 years. My dad; the youngest was born when my grandmother was 47, this was back in the 30’s! She used to tell the boys, “that’s when the bottom dropped out.” I think she had a great sense of humor!
They raised their family through two World Wars; 2 of their boys serving in WWII; they survived the depression while raising a large family in a small two-bedroom house with an attic converted into a bunkroom and watched our world change in ways we’ll probably never see again.
In hindsight, I would have given anything to know my grandmother better, I was only 14 when she passed, my grandfather had passed away shortly after my parents married. I would ask her questions now that I’m older. Ask questions of your elders; ask about what they remember from growing up, look at pictures together, talk about past world events, heritage, faith, hardships; we can learn so very much from them, it’s a lost art. That darned hindsight, always 20-20. In fact, we learned from this and have since been trying to capture video “interviews” if you will of our parents and elders to preserve some of this rich history.
Below are my grandparents circa 1910-13, not sure if it’s before or after they married. I love this picture! A little smile on each of their lips and those hats!
My grandmother “Flo” born in 1885 and grandfather “Harry” born in 1891 (he lied about his age for years). Was it scandalous that she married a younger man and was “older” for that time period marrying at 27? She held several jobs, was she a suffragette?
They went from horse and buggy to automobiles, from gas powered lighting to electricity, letters to telephones, radio, phonographs, and finally TV. From trains to air travel…all of the amazing inventions experienced in the 20th Century, things we certainly take for granted. What would they think of now with cell phones, world travel, social media, electric cars and more.
What a legacy they left in their sons, they were not perfect, no, not one of us is, but I am so grateful for this Meyer family. I’m so glad that a couple of my Aunts decided we needed a family reunion back in 1991, we’ve been doing them ever since!
I’ve always loved heritage, family history, and genealogy and thought I had heard just about everything about our family, but somehow I missed this gem! My great-Uncle Adolph (below) my grandfather’s oldest brother (named long before the nasty Adolph was infamous); fought in the Spanish-American war with Teddy Roosevelt! That’s a fun bit of family history!
We only have 2 of the original brothers left, the two just older than my Dad; my Uncle Bill (one of the WWII vets) and Uncle Tom – we were all tickled that my 93 year old Uncle Bill would attend this reunion and very much missed my Uncle Tom. We were blessed to hear him tell stories, reminisce of times gone by, sing songs, and sit amongst 4 generations of Meyer’s. It was a sight to behold. And he wants to be at the next reunion, God willing he says! He said that 5 years ago at our last one, so I think he might just be at the next. Here he is below singing with a couple of his grandkids.
While most of our meals were provided by the Y (beautiful place to have a family reunion if you need one, YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park) we chose to eat our lunch in our meeting room. This pasta salad (you thought I forgot what I was blogging about didn’t you…admit it!) would be perfect for a large family gathering, it makes a lot, and it holds up well in less than ideal conditions. Plus it’s delicious! Truth be told, I didn’t make it for the reunion, as I was scrambling to put the finishing touches on all of the details, but it would have been fabulous.
So let’s get down to pasta salad business!
Start by cooking your pasta al dente, follow your package instructions and cook on the lower side of recommended time. Rinse with cold water in a colander and toss into large bowl.
Next, chop your red bell pepper into small chunks, toss into pasta.
Then, drain your sun-dried tomatoes (chopping if desired into smaller bite size pieces) and toss onto pasta.
Slice (if desired) your olives (I used black, but Kalamata or any other type would be yummy), toss onto pasta.
Next, add your grated parmesan cheese.
Now for the delicious dressing, add your olive oil and white balsamic vinegar to a mason jar with a lid.
Then your salt and sugar…
and your basil and oregano…
and finally your chopped garlic.
Cover with lid (this is why I love making my dressings in a mason jar) and shake like crazy to mix and even emulsify it a bit.
Pour over top of pasta salad and gently toss mixing all ingredients well.
Chill until ready to serve, best if it sits for an hour or several, even overnight.
Just prior to serving, chop your fresh baby spinach and basil and stir into salad, adding a bright pop of green and nutrients.
Now get out there and talk to your elders, be intentional and ask questions, listen and learn.
- 16 oz of bowtie pasta, cooked and drained in cold water
- 1-7 oz jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (or other color(s) if desired)
- 1 6.5 oz can sliced black olives, or try Kalamata or green olives too
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons* white balsamic vinegar (I used white, but dark balsamic, or any other vinegar would taste yummy too.) *A little more or less depending on the strength of your olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped fine
- Black pepper to taste
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
- In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, sundried tomatoes, bell pepper, olives and cheese.
- Toss gently until combined.
- To make dressing, put all ingredients into a mason jar with lid, shake vigorously to combine.
- Pour dressing over pasta salad.
- Toss to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving for flavors to mingle.
- Just prior to serving, toss in spinach and basil for a beautiful fresh pop of color.
- Toss salad well again, adjust seasonings if necessary, finish with a final grind of sea salt and if desired ground pepper.
- Lasts for days! Great as leftovers