Monday, September 1, 2014

Pasta Salad Bar

The four of us had a great camping trip this past weekend with my brothers' families, my brother's neighbors, my parents, and Heesu and her friend. The weather was beautiful, cool and clear. To top it off, there were almost NO mosquitoes! Hooray! This was the first time Heesu or her friend had been tent camping (first ever camp out for Heesu), so we were very happy it was a positive experience.

When we camp with my family, we usually do our own breakfasts and lunches in family units, then take turns providing a common dinner for the whole group. I don't like cooking while camping*, so I made our meal ahead of time. It was a rousing success, so I decided to share it here to inspire others looking to feed a largish group. We fed ten adults, two teenagers, and four kids (not counting Anne).

3 lbs rainbow/tri-color pasta
1 can (6 oz) medium olives
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts
1 qt grape tomatoes
2 cucumbers, chopped in bite-size pieces
3 bell peppers, chopped in bite-size pieces
1 lb sugar snap peas, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb sharp cheddar, chopped in bite-size pieces
3 cups Italian dressing
12 oz diced pepperoni

I cooked the pasta at home, then put it in two Ziploc bags. I drained the olives and artichokes before putting them in separate Ziploc reusable containers (I really like the "Twist-n-Loc" ones!). I chopped the vegetables and cheese, putting each in a separate container. I made two batches of Italian dressing, storing one in the Good Seasons cruet and the extra in an empty spaghetti sauce jar; we ran out, so I recommend making three. I splurged and bought the pepperoni already diced.

When it was our time to make dinner, Jeremy just unpacked the cooler (and chopped the peppers, which I forgot to do at home). He put all the containers on a picnic table and let people serve themselves from our pasta salad bar. Everyone was happy, which is quite an accomplishment! I think it was so well-received because each person had only the things he or she really liked. It seems most people will try to eat around one or two items in a typical pasta salad. Building your own avoids this problem. Maybe I'll even do it at home some time!

*Part of it is the hassle of bringing a stove, using pots and pans, and spending time cooking that could otherwise be spent camping. The other part is that I don't particularly like cooking in general.

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