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Pasta salad is a very summery dinner

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Cooking minimally during the hot summer months is a standard operating procedure in Arizona, so I am always looking for things like an interesting pasta salad.

Dinner salads are also very good, and there is a routine for that: a handful of mixed greens per person (whatever you like), other vegetable garnishes such as shredded carrots, sliced beets, sprouts, radishes or whatever looks good in the store. Then you add a protein if you like, from chopped hard-cooked eggs to chicken to fish, and add a dressing such as honey mustard or, I must say, Bernice's French Dressing which is one of my Big Six go-to recipes.

For a pasta salad, you start with bite-sized pasta, and add vegetables and garnishes, and finally a protein. You finish a pasta salad with something to hold it together like mayonnaise or a combination of mayo and sour cream. Many pasta salads call for a light oil-and-vinegar style dressing as well. There's another easy, cool summer dinner.

If you have some crusty bread and butter and a bottle of light wine, so much the better. You will also have some calories to spend on dessert without getting guilt for the rest of the evening.

I discovered this salmon salad online, and I adapted it to organics and added some ingredients like chopped pecans. That's because there are a lot of nut garnishes available in supermarkets nowadays and I do like nuts over a salad. I also like to add fresh blueberries, which will not lose their color into the salad and are super as far as nutrition is concerned.

You can also get sweetened nuts, such as honey roasted almonds or what not, for salad garnishes. I tend not to get them because I have targeted sugar recently and I'm trying to reduce it. To that end I am keeping baking substitutes on hand and watching what goes into everything I cook.

PASTA SALAD WITH SALMON

Ingredients:

? cup plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt or non-dairy substitute
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper
12-14 ounces flaked cooked salmon
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, defrosted
½ pound of bow tie or other small pasta, cooked according to package directions and cooled
2 scallions, minced
8 cup red-leaf lettuce or mixed greens
Chopped pecans and fresh blueberries, for garnish

Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, mayonnaise, lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to incorporate. Add the salmon, peas, pasta, and scallions and toss to incorporate. The pasta salad will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To serve, mound 2 cups of the lettuce onto each plate and scoop about 1 ¾ cups of the pasta salad on top. Sprinkle with the nuts and berries and serve.

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