Amazing Clean-out-the-fridge Seafood Pasta Salad

We spent a few days at a beach house with my brother and sister-in-law (first time at the Atlantic ocean for us!) and one of the evenings I had dinner duty. Because we had access to lots of fun seafood, I made my favorite pasta salad.

This pasta dish is much more method than recipe.

One of the great things about this dish is that I don’t need enough of any single ingredient to feed everyone. That’s very helpful in finishing off the tag ends of stuff in the fridge. One of the key things to remember is that none of the veggies are cooked, so this is sort of “fresh salad” as well as main dish.

Seafood Pasta Salad

Here are the instructions:

Cook a package of angel hair pasta and put it aside. (I am sure that any type of noodle will work…I just happen to like angel hair for this.)

Saute

  • 1 -2 T. minced garlic
  • 2 T. butter (or olive oil)
  • chopped green onions (or regular onions if that is what you have)
  • cubes of boneless, skinless chicken breast (or scallops and shrimp or whatever odd bits of meat you want to use.)

If you are going to include more than one type of meat, pay attention to cooking time. It takes longer to saute chicken than it does to cook scallops. Don’t overcook seafood. For our family of six, I might use one chicken breast and 1/2 pound of shrimp and 1/2 pound of scallops. Or I might use all of the same meat.

While the meat is cooking, toast pine nuts in a skillet on the stove top. This won’t take long and you don’t want to burn them. Toasted pine nuts taste TOTALLY different than untoasted ones.

Into a huge bowl, cut up veggies. I use whatever is in my fridge. I try to make sure that I include these veggies:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 or 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • 2-3 cups broccoli florets

Other things that are good that might or might not be in my fridge:

  • any type of pepper (red and yellow peppers make it really pretty)
  • chunks of avocado
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • chunks of jicama
  • very thin slices of red onion
  • cauliflower
  • very finely sliced cabbage
  • fresh basil
  • tomatillos
  • celery
  • grated carrots

Basically, you figure out which veggies your family likes or which combination sounds the best to you.

I might also add chunks of cheese or finely diced chunks of summer sausage.

Mix all the veggies together thoroughly. Drain and add the cooked meat and the pasta. Toss together with some kind of dressing. If I’m in the hurry, the bottle of Italian dressing in the fridge works well. If I have time, I will make my own dressing that is a little heavier on the vinegar so that there’s a bit of a bite to it. I like to add balsamic vinegar to this salad too. Make sure that all the ingredients are coated with the dressing. Add salt if it tastes like it needs it.

The final ingredient can either get mixed in to the salad or served on the side. This ingredient is stinky cheese. I use either fresh, grated parmesan or fresh, grated asiago cheese. I personally like the asiago cheese best and I like to add it to the salad once it’s on my plate. On the other hand, I have been known to open 20 of those little parmesan cheese packets from the pizza delivery place and mix that into this meal as well.

The thing I like best about this dish is that I don’t need enough broccoli or enough chicken to feed our family of six. I just need enough small bits to make a huge bowl of pasta. My kids like it because they aren’t stuck eating full helpings of anything that they might not like. It’s not all that hard to pick around green peppers if one loathes green peppers…or to slip the shrimp on a brother’s plate if shrimp doesn’t do it for you.

bk