Monday, June 13, 2016

Salkahatchie Salad

Garden Pasta Salad

Well, that is not really the name of this salad. But it could be. It's that time of year again. Early summer is when I usually make lots and lots of pasta salad for the summer work camp, (Salkahatchie Summer Service is a program of the United Methodist Church in our state) that our church hosts each year. This week, 80 teens and leaders are "camping" all over our church. There are sleeping bags spread out in every room. This will be home base for the week while they are in our community doing home repairs where it's most needed.

And I don't mean little repairs. They might be adding a porch or a wheelchair ramp. Or, re-roofing a house or replacing a floor. They learn many skills as they work and they learn much about life. They pay to come do this work for people who can't pay at all. Maybe people they wouldn't get to know otherwise.

For the record, this is one of many Salkahatchie sites across the state. And many of the adult leaders were teen workers a few years ago. That says a lot—that they choose to continue their service for years beyond participating as a camper. It's not easy. This is the deep South where the heat and humidity can be brutal . Temps this week will get close to 100 degrees. And yet they still come.

There is a crew of dedicated kitchen workers who keep these teenagers fed multiple times a day. A big breakfast is served at the church. Lunch is delivered to a church or community room near the work site, so they get a small midday break. (There are five different sites this year served by this camp, located all over the county.) And dinner is hosted by a different church most nights. That gives our own kitchen crew a little time off. And, then there are snacks. Lots of snacks. These are teens, after all. So I am happy to provide the pasta salad. It's a small contribution compared to many others that work every day.

This is a great "feed a lot of people" recipe. (Especially when you make it four times over, like today.) And one of the best things that it's better when it's made at least the day before. So, if you are not feeding a camp, keep it in mind for your summer get-togethers. No last minute prep here. It keeps for several days. We love to take it to the lake for July 4th. 


1 (16-oz) box of pasta -- rotini, bowtie, or penne
5 cups of chopped fresh vegetables
fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1 (16-oz) bottle Italian salad dressing

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water. Drain well. Put pasta and vegetables and parsley into a large bowl. Add salad dressing and Salad Supreme Seasoning. Toss gently until mixed well. Cover. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until ready to serve. I like to make it a day ahead.

This recipe filled a 5-quart plastic container.

The only secret I know for this pasta salad to use a big assortment of vegetables. I try to get lots of color into my mix. This afternoon I chopped zucchini, carrot, celery, red pepper, yellow squash, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and broccoli. (We had zucchini, squash and cucumbers in our garden.) You can use any combination that suits you. For no particular reason, I didn't add any onion this time. Probably should have. I love to cook fresh corn and cut it off the cob. The corn adds a nice touch of sweetness.

Another hint is to put a large pot of water on to boil before you start chopping. A big pot of water takes forever to come to a boil. 

To keep from washing more pots, when the water for the pasta came to a boil, I dunked in the broccoli to blanch it for a minute. (Yep, I held it by the stem and dunked it.) Then I let the corn (on the cob) cook for five minutes and took it out. Then I cooked the pasta in the same water. Much easier clean up than usual.

 Make this before summer is over. You'll be glad you did.

I considered not posting this today after yesterday's tragedy that has dominated the news. I didn't have any words that could make sense of it. But this morning, when I saw the sun come up, I took a deep breath and decided that the best way for me to deal with this sadness and heartbreak was to continue on as planned. To live life and love others. To celebrate these young people who serve others. To remember this John Wesley quote that is dear to many of us:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. 
In all the ways you can. 
In all the places you can. At all the times you can. 
To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” 
~John Wesley 



  1. Perfct timing! I just bought the veggies for this over the weekend. Making it this afternoon! I'm sure the workers will appreciate your apsalad after working so hard. They're a blessing to the folks they help!

    1. I really would like some for us...but surely am not making more today! Maybe this weekend.

  2. I like salads like this that are almost a meal in themselves. Maybe I'll throw in some chickpeas for some protein. This service project is the good news I can celebrate after hearing so much bad news.

    1. Barb, we were talking tonight about all the other things that could be added. I hadn't thought about chickpeas. It certainly is a flexible recipe. My first thing is to use produce from the garden and then fill in from there.


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