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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Broccoli Apple Pasta Salad

I know I was supposed to post about our other Halloween costumes from last year, but I haven't had a chance to work on finishing touches that one of them needed or even to have us put them back on as they were and take pictures. Part of that is the general busyness of life, and part is because I was helping a friend work on the costumes for a high school play. If I was sewing, I was sewing for her. But don't feel bad that I'm not posting about that. For one, I had no creative input, and for another, I just hemmed, repaired, and altered existing items. It was fun because I like theater, and helping out my friend and the teens was good, but there's really not much to write about.

So today, I'm a food blogger. I want to share a pretty good recipe I made up recently. The measurements won't be exact, though, because that is not how I cook. Who am I kidding? The measurements will be mostly non-existent. I use what my husband calls the RAT method: Right About There.

Ingredients:
pasta (We used elbow macaroni because it was what we had that wasn't spaghetti or egg noodles, but a lot of other things would work, including shells.)
fresh broccoli
chopped onion (I cut three slices of onion and then cut each slice in quarters because I like noticeable pieces of onion, but you could dice it or chop it even more roughly as you prefer.)
chopped celery (I think I put two stalks in.)
dried apple
chicken (seasoned with curry powder and a little bit of dill and lemon pepper--it may sound like a weird combination, but it was soooo good. It was Jon's idea.)
dressing: (I used the dressing recipe from another salad recipe, so you may need to increase or decrease this part depending on how big of a salad you make.)
1/2 cup mayo
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp sugar

It's a good idea to mix the dressing first, so the sugar will be dissolved when you put the dressing on the salad, but it still tastes good even if you don't give it a lot of time for that, so don't stress if you end up mixing it later. Cook the pasta like normal, preferably leaving it al dente--don't make it mushy. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces and steam it for no more than 5 minutes while the pasta cooks--you're just trying to make it slightly tender, but mostly still crunchy. Again, don't make it mushy! And on that note, don't be tempted to use frozen. If you don't want the step of steaming it, just leave it raw. If you make this salad mushy, I will know that something is wrong in the world, and I will come find you. ;)

We cooked the chicken in a panini press, but a George Foreman grill or similar would work about the same, and pan frying should also be fine. You can really do this step at any time--before cooking the pasta and broccoli, while it's cooking, or after you combine all the other ingredients because it needs to chill anyway.

Which leads us to that step--combine pasta and veggies and coat with dressing and sprinkle with salt to taste. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour or in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. If you put it in the freezer, though, don't forget and leave it in there too long. It's pretty weird if it actually freezes.

If you cooked the chicken before or while cooking the pasta, you can add it before chilling the salad, but it's fine to add it right before eating it. We didn't add the dried apples until the end because Jon wanted them to be crunchy, but that is also flexible. If you would prefer them softer, you can use the kind that are softer to begin with or you can add them before you chill the salad so that the apples absorb some of the moisture from the dressing.

Next step: eat up! If anyone actually tries this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

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