To me, a delicious pasta salad is the perfect accompaniment to any BBQ meal during the summer. I’ve experimented with so many different version of pasta salads – changing up the type of pasta, the dressing, the vegetables….but I’ve settled on this one as my all time favourite.
The dressing is simple – just mayonnaise and lemon juice – and the pasta shells just reinforce the summer, beachy theme. Also, the shell shape is the perfect receptacle to absorb and catch all the other ingredients. The carrots add the right amount of crunch, and the red onion add the much needed zip. The thick cut bacon and cheddar cheese add in the perfect saltiness and decadence.
This pasta salad paired perfectly with some BBQ chicken skewers and a crisp glass (or two, or three…) of pinot grigio!
Hey everyone! So I’m just over a month postpartum with my second child and we are just starting to get into a routine. The past four weeks has just been filled with cuddles, feeding and just relaxing and recovering.
I am determined to start eating healthier. I was not healthy at all during this second pregnancy. I was too sick during the first trimester and too tired after that to exercise. And my diet was just atrocious – my intense craving for chocolate had me foraging all over my workplace for chocolate since I tried not to keep any in my office to tempt myself.
This is our last baby so I am anxious to start getting my ‘permanent’ body back. However, I am not going to rush the exercise as I need to fully recover from my C section for at least 6 weeks, and I just want to enjoy every lazy moment of cuddling on the couch and binge watching Netflix. (I have 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy to watch from the very beginning!) So, as a starting point, I’m going to start eating healthier. Keep in mind, this is not a diet – I need to eat healthy and I need to eat a lot because I am breastfeeding and breastfeeding burns up to an extra 500 calories a day. But I can cut out processed and junk food, sweets, and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Surprisingly, my husband is also onboard with eating healthier with me. He’s typically a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and he wants every meal to contain meat and starch. He is naturally athletic and fit though, and has a very physically demanding career, so he is always in shape despite eating and drinking whatever he wants. However, he has hit a plateau and wants to make some improvements in his fitness and he knows that a change in diet is the key.
So, although we will still have to make pasta dishes for our picky toddler, the two of us can start eating more salads. This chicken avocado bacon salad was my first attempt at making a meal-sized salad that is healthy and that would fill us up. The chicken, bacon and eggs provided loads of protein. Obviously, if you want it even healthier, you can eliminate the bacon or use turkey bacon instead. I would keep the bacon though – it really added amazing flavour when paired with the creamy avocado.
If you have extra time and want additional freshness, you can just dress the salad with equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. I just used store bought Italian dressing and it tasted amazing.
This was a huge hit with the husband so it looks like it’s on the weekly menu at least once a week!
You can measure my culinary growth over the years through the evolution of my salad dressings. In my early 20’s when I was single, I had Kraft salad dressing in my fridge…next to my bagged salad, Diet Coke and Grey Goose. In my late 20’s, I started buying the fancier salad dressings, you know, the ones in the refrigerated produce section that came in glass containers instead of plastic squeeze bottles. Now that I’m in my 30’s and I consider myself a decent home cook, I make my own salad dressings.
The components of a vinaigrette are generally the same. There’s the oil component and the vinegar component, and you can just stop there if you want to. However, you can build more layers into your salad dressing by adding a sweetener component and a flavour component. Common sweetener components are honey, white sugar, or brown sugar. Common flavour components that I often see are dijon mustard, soy sauce, or spices (like Italian spice, oregano, etc).
One of my current favourite vinaigrettes is this sesame soy vinaigrette. Even when supper is just a hastily thrown together affair of salmon, rice, and greens that came out of a bag, this sesame soy vinaigrette definitely escalates the quality of the meal!
What are some of your favourite homemade salad dressings?