Garden Fresh Summer Pasta Salad

Corn. Tomatoes. Cucumbers.  Fresh greens and herbs.

What could spell out summer any better?

Well, you could add pasta.

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Summer is all about ease.  Easy eating, easy prep, easy clean up.  It’s hot, y’all, so let’s keep it simple.  No one wants to be trapped indoors over a stovetop or scorching oven.  So what do you do?

You order pizza, of course.

I kid, I kid.

You stick to the things that are fresh and delicious.  Quick to prepare and full of amazing garden flavors.  Pasta salad, be it oil based, dressing based, mayo based – you can’t go wrong.  Whatever you put in it will undoubtedly shine, so be sure to choose the tastiest ingredients.

Now that summer is here, we are all planting our own gardens, but the farmers markets and grocers are teeming with incredible veggies.  So, I was challenged, along with 4 other food bloggers, to create an ultimate recipe using market ingredients.  Dreamfields, the ONLY pasta you will find in my house, encouraged the five of us to use their pasta in a salad, side dish or entrée using only a few ingredients.  We had to use the following:

Corn, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Greens, and Herbs.  We were allowed salt and pepper, oil, and water.  And luckily, 2 ingredients of our own choosing to make it our own.  Me?  Well, of course, I went pasta salad, because I can’t get enough of it.  At potlucks or picnics, no matter the noodle or ingredients, I gravitate towards that dish every time…and rarely am I ever disappointed.  I found this recipe to be so flavorful and light – the perfect intro to dinner, or as a cool side dish to pair with grilled chicken or steak.  In fact…I may have eaten enough of it to make an entrée out of it a few times.

But no judging here.  We all have our vices.  So mine is pasta.  I can live with that.

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Garden Fresh Summer Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Dreamfields Penne Pasta, cooked
  • 1 ear of corn, cooked and cut off cob
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 8 ounces plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 ounces baby spinach, chiffonade
  • 4 ounces low fat sour cream
  • 6 ounces low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Place in large bowl.

2. Stir tomatoes, corn, cucumber and spinach into pasta.

3. In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, basil, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add to pasta mixture, toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information (1/6 of recipe): 310 calories; 10 g protein; 58 g carbohydrates; 7 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 10 mg cholesterol; 490 mg sodium; 7 g total dietary fiber.


Now…don’t run off, I need you!

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As I mentioned, I created this recipe for Dreamfields. I love that they are a little but healthier – more fiber, more protein…but really, it just tastes great!  But… here’s why REALLY took them up on their challenge!  Remember how I told you about the four other bloggers?  Well, we are pitted against one another in a friendly war.  A PASTA war.  Starting today, and for the next WEEK, you can vote once per day on my recipe to take the prize.

So what’s the prize?  And what’s in it for YOU, you ask?

Well, if my recipe gets the most votes, a local food bank in my area will be awarded $1000.  What a HUGE gift to this area that would be!  And what’s in it for YOU?  If you vote, you, too, could win $1000 for a food bank in YOUR area!  A random voter will be chosen to win as well – so why not help me out?!  We could do good TOGETHER!

Vote HERE!  And please share this post on your social networks…we’d love to spread the news about the good we are trying to do to keep America fed.  Use #Pastapalooza, #Dreamfields and #HealthyPasta in your tweets if you can!

HUNGER DOESN’T TAKE A VACATION

For many of us, summer is a time to relax and enjoy the warmer weather. . .slower schedules. . .and more than likely a cookout or two. But for the 49 million Americans identified as “food insecure” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), summer is no trip to the beach. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation for them, but in fact intensifies.

One of the primary reasons for the increased need for food assistance during summer is because federal breakfast and lunch support programs are only in operation during the school year. That translates into 21 million children missing out on free or reduced-price meals from June till September.

Adults and seniors need assistance too. According to a Hunger in America study, the majority of the clients being served by the Feeding America network (54%) have visited a food pantry in six or more months during the prior year. Also, more than half (56%) of elderly clients aged 65+ have used a pantry every month within the prior year.

Ways To Help

There are many easy and fulfilling ways we all can help, such as:

· Donate foods and essential toiletries to your local food bank or pantry. According to Hunger in America 2014, 58,000 food pantries, meal service programs, and other charitable food programs are available to assist the food insecure in virtually every community in the U.S. That’s up from only 200 food banks in 1980.

o While non-perishable items are typically the norm. Ample Harvest has a list of pantries that accept the excess bounty from home gardens. ,

· Consider giving a monetary donation. Feeding America has suggestions for several ways one can donate.

· Place a vote in the Pastapalooza V Market Basket Challenge to Help Fight Hunger!  Throughout the summer, bloggers will be challenged to use the ingredients in the Market Baskets to create original pasta salad, side dish or summer entrée recipes. Fans and friends will vote for their favorite recipe from each category, with the winning blogger receiving a $1,000 donation to their local food bank/pantry; a $200 donation will go to the food bank of choice of the remaining bloggers. One randomly-drawn fan/participant from each challenge who voted will win a family pack of Dreamfields + a $1,000 donation to their local food bank/pantry.

· Contact your local chapter of these organizations and donate your time to help fight hunger: Ample Harvest, Feeding America, Salvation Army, Why Hunger.

Disclaimer: As I mentioned, this post is sponsored by Dreamfields.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.