Broccoli Pasta Salad

“What can we bring?” is the first question Jerri asks when we are invited to someone’s home for dinner. My mother asked the same question hundreds of times over the years.

If your host or hostess suggests that you bring a salad, here is one that you can put together in under half an hour. Since it tastes even better after it sits in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, it’s a salad that eliminates any last minute panics. It’s perfect for senior citizens.

We can make it before our afternoon nap, pop it in the refrigerator and wake up alert and ready to astound our friends with our vim and vigor. It’s a good recipe for the gainfully employed too. You can make it before leaving for work in the morning and take it out of the fridge on your way to the party. Not as relaxing as we find it, but trust me, you will get there some day.

Meanwhile you can practice making this salad which has just enough dressing to flavor everything without loading it with extra calories.

INGREDIENTS:

1 12 oz. package rotini
Water and salt to cook the pasta
4 or 5 slices bacon
3 cups raw, chopped broccoli
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise or whipped salad dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

PROCEDURE:

Heat the water for cooking the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package for al dente or firm. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool it completely.

Cut the bacon into a three-eighths to half-inch dice and fry it over medium heat until it just becomes crisp. Be careful not to burn it. Drain it well and set it aside. You should have about a half cup of crisp bacon.

Wash and chop the broccoli into one inch pieces. Clean and chop the onion into a three-sixteenth to quarter-inch dice. Shred the cheese.

Put the cooled rotini, bacon, vegetables, sunflower seeds and cheese into a large mixing bowl. Toss the ingredients until they are distributed evenly.

Make the dressing in a small bowl by whisking together the mayonnaise or whipped dressing with the vinegar and sugar. Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and toss gently until the pasta and vegetables are coated.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. For the best flavor, let the salad stand at room temperature for fifteen or twenty minutes.

NOTES: This is a good salad to take to a potluck or picnic.