Using-Up-Leftover-Pasta Salad

It’s late. I just spent in inordinate amount of time writing up the pizza dough post below, in fact, I worked right through “making dinner” time. This is highly unusual: I’ve been known to spend three hours making dinner on a week night. 11:30 is too late to embark on a 3-hour culinary journey, even for me, and even on a Friday night. My husband, Mark, said he’d happily eat the frozen vegan “nuggets” I picked up at Trader Joe’s tonight for just such an emergency. I buy as little processed and frozen food as I possibly can, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting the nuggets to be gone in a matter of hours; usually that type of stuff sits in the freezer for months. I’m also embarrassed to admit to eating such a thing on my second day of having a food blog. Trust me, this is NOT a normal dinner night here! If I’m too tired to cook, I either cook something super easy (usually noodles) or we go out to eat. But I’m barely hungry at all tonight for some reason AND it is nearly midnight, so frozen nuggets it is for Mark.

What I DID do, however, is whip up a quick pasta salad to accompany the nuggets, using some leftover pasta from the other night. And I figured, what the heck, I’d photograph it and post an honest-to-god recipe for y’all so I don’t look like such a food blogger poseur!

I have to alert you that I can probably count the number of times I’ve eaten pasta salad on my fingers and toes. It’s not something I often make, or have ever made. So I’m no critic of a good pasta salad. But it ended up being a nice, light dinner or side dish.

Also, I don’t measure when I cook, so all measurements I post in original recipes are wild approximations of what I think I may have thrown in. Please adjust to your own taste. In fact, this is the other reason I’ve been reluctant to start a food blog. I cook a lot, often without a recipe, but I’m very imprecise, and half the time I don’t remember what I did. Hopefully taking pictures as I go along will help me as much as it helps you!

Using-Up-Leftover-Pasta Salad

2 cups cooked pasta, such as penne
1/2 can (or about 6 frozen) artichoke hearts in water (if using marinated, omit or cut back on the olive oil), chopped
1/2 can diced tomatoes (or 1 large tomato, chopped)
2 Tbsp Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix
1 Tbsp olive oil
basil, either several leaves, shredded, or 1 tsp dry, or 2 small cubes frozen
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
capers, optional

Mix all ingredients together. Chill for a little while to allow flavors to meld.

It’s not pretty, but here’s the finished product:

minus about 1 1/2 tsp capers I mixed in after opening the refrigerator and seeing the capers.

An outtake from the photo shoot (I told you you’d be seeing a lot of Tigger):

Those two handsome fellas between the vinegar and the olive oil are my Peugeot salt and pepper grinders, which my cats (with my husband’s help, apparently) bought me. They are electric. They symbolize the depths to which I am a total kitchen appliance junkie. I love them so much.

The strange object Tigger is checking out is a cube of frozen basil that I got at Trader Joe’s. I’ve killed another basil plant. Killing plants is a hobby of mine. I don’t always have fresh basil on hand, as much as I loooooooove it, so when I saw these frozen cubes I snapped them up, figuring it had to be better than dried. They’re pretty nice. No substitute for fresh, but they have decent flavor. They also have cilantro, which is another herb I always wish I had on hand but manage to kill on a regular basis.

There’s a lemon in the photo because I thought I might use it when I was assembling potential ingredients, but then I decided the vinegar made it tangy enough.

Oh, and as for that “Uncheese Mix”? AWESOME on popcorn. That’s pretty much why I keep it on hand!

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