Orphans’ Pasta!

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence  

Photo by  Heather Ford  on  Unsplash

The sweeping heat wave this summer makes me shudder at even the thought of turning on my oven. As the dinner hour approaches, my hungry daughter usually sticks her head in the fridge and browses for leftovers (which none of us likes...) and my husband shows up at the kitchen counter with an unspoken question: What's for dinner? My favorite quick solution? Orphans’ Pasta Salad!

Yes, orphans! We collect the leftover elbow pasta that we did not use in a soup, the elbow pasta left from my daughter's yesterday's buttered noodles and cook them all quickly in a pot of salted water. Scrounging in the fridge, I pull the sautéed asparagus and mushrooms that did not end up in Sunday’s frittata, as well as the pitted olives and marinated artichoke hearts from Sunday’s relish platter. Once the pasta is cooked and tender, I strain it into a large bowl and then add all the fridge’s orphans, looking for a home. Tossing them all together, I examine the colors and often decide to add a few halved cherry tomatoes, some colorful bell pepper slices, or that half empty jar of sundried tomatoes, sprinkle whatever cheese I have sitting in the fridge and drizzle some zesty salad dressing to tie it all together (store-bought or homemade). Flavorful, filling, quick and economical – dinner is made! 

Of course, if I have some leftover grilled salmon or chicken, even hard-boiled eggs, cooked beans or canned tuna – they can find a home in this pasta salad as well! Even better, this salad is great to eat tomorrow, or the next day and as workday lunch!

So, empty out your pantry and fridge and build a light and filling meal that is creative, inventive and delicious!

Need a recipe after all? Here are a few links:

  1. How To Make the Easiest Pasta Salad - Kitchn.com

  2. 20 Summertime Pasta Recipes – LeitsCulinaria.com

  3. 5 Cold, Quick Noodle Salads for the Hungry, Hurried & Hot – food52.com

  4. 35 Pasta Salads That Will Crush At Your Next Cookout – Delish.com