Party Food: Three Salads

So, I’m a bit behind on posting.  May was a whirlwind and I can’t believe June is just a few days away!  One of the big events of May was my daughter’s college graduation.  Family came in to visit from three different states and we had plenty of food and fun!  I hosted a party at the house, and chose to keep it simple with some grilled marinated chicken breasts and burgers, oven roasted potatoes, and an assortment of salads and sides.  Since we have a variety of dietary requirements, I had to make sure that there was something for everyone, from the vegetarians, to the gluten-free folks.

Below are recipes for Caprese Pasta Salad, Cucumber Snap Pea Salad, and Crab Salad Dip.  I would post my recipe for guacamole, but I don’t have a real recipe.  I throw the ingredients into my mini food processor and go.  Besides, everyone has their own go-to guac recipe, right?!?

As far as prepping goes, I knew it would be a busy weekend, so I cooked the pasta one day in advance and kept it in the refrigerator in a gallon zip top bag and sliced the tomatoes for the Caprese Pasta Salad.  Regarding the mozzarella for this salad, I use bocconcini, which are the small, bite-size balls.  If you cannot find these, buy a regular size ball of mozzarella and cut it into bite-size pieces.  But, whatever you do, do NOT use the stuff that’s shaped like a block.  The “real” stuff just tastes so much better!  The Kitchn has a great article on The 9 Types of Mozzarella – check it out!

The Cucumber Snap Pea Salad is super easy to toss together, so I didn’t do any pre-work there, but you could slice up your veggies the day before and store in airtight containers.  Be sure to use sugar snap peas and not snow peas (the flatter pods), as they’ll have a better crunch and flavor for this salad.  For the Crab Salad Dip, I cooked the corn and took it off the cob the day before and also kept it in an airtight container.  I serve this with crackers and tortilla chips, but some folks just eat it as-is.  Everything came together about 1-2 hours before dinner time.  I did form the burgers and marinate the chicken one day in advance as well, so all I had to do was throw them on the grill.


Caprese Pasta Salad

1 – 16 oz. box penne pasta (rigatoni, farfalle, or orecchiette all work)
1 – 10 oz. container of grape tomatoes, halved
1 – 8 oz. package of bocconcini mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves, chopped into small pieces (approximately 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the pasta according to directions in a pot of salted water.  Drain, rinse, and cool completely before assembling the salad.  Once cooled, place the cooked pasta, the tomatoes, and mozzarella in a large bowl.  In a small bowl (or shaker) whisk (or shake) the olive oil, vinegars, garlic, salt and pepper until thoroughly mixed.  Pour over the pasta combination, and gently toss to coat.  Add the basil leaves and toss again.  Chill, or serve immediately.


Cucumber Snap Pea Salad

1 1/2 cups English cucumber, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into halves or thirds
1 green onion, diced
Fresh dill, chopped (approximately 2-3 tablespoons fresh)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon avocado or canola oil mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Toss the veggies in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl dissolve the sugar in the apple cider vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil, mayonnaise, salt and pepper until thoroughly mixed.  Pour over the veggies, gently toss to coat, then add the fresh dill and toss again.  Chill, or serve immediately.


Crab Salad Dip

1 lb. can of refrigerated cooked crab meat (like Chicken of the Sea)
1 ear of corn, cooked and removed from the cob
1 green onion, sliced
1/3 cup diced red pepper
3 tablespoons avocado or canola oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

Place the crab meat, corn kernels, green onion, and red pepper in a large bowl.  In a separate small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, honey, vinegar, and seasoning until thoroughly mixed.  Pour over the crab mixture and stir until the dressing is mixed throughout the salad.  Serve with crackers or tortilla chips, or in lettuce cups.



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