Both my grandfather and uncle (among others in the family) served in the US Army, and yesterday my baby sister left for basic training. It only seemed right to give her a proper send off, surrounding her with friends, family and an All-American menu. We had your typical BBQ/picnic food. We grilled out (think brats, hot dogs, EEEK!!!), my grandfather made his famous potato salad, we had fruit salad, finger foods and I made pasta salad.
For those of you who know me, it's very difficult for me to let other people bring food when I'm doing the entertaining. I am very traditional and feel that if I'm hosting it's my responsibility to plan, prepare and serve my guests. It's also because I'm a control freak and don't like not knowing what is in the food I'm eating. That sounds rude, I know. It's not that I don't trust that my friends and family eat healthy, but I like to control what I'm eating. I'll never outgrow this. Ever. It's just in me.
I decided, after coming off of two consecutive work/volunteer trips, that I needed to let people help me with this party. I gave people ideas of dishes they could bring, and told myself that this was about my sister and we were going to enjoy the food regardless of the ingredient list. I did; however, make the pasta salad myself. One, it's my favorite picnic dish. Two, at least I knew there would be something gluten-free I could eat!
Pasta was something that I was so fearful of having to give up. I find that I don't crave it nearly as often as I used to (probably because I put myself on a pasta detox after getting sick so much in Italy), but when I do, brown rice pasta has been my go-to. To me it has the same "bite" as whole wheat pasta, which allows me to feel like I'm not depriving myself of anything. The thing I love about this is the ingredients on the box....organic brown rice flour. Nothing fancy, nothing I can't pronounce (have you looked at the ingredients on some of the boxes of pasta out there?), and no guessing if "whole wheat" or "whole grain" is really what it says it is. And then, of course, it's gluten-free so I have no worries there either.
With Memorial Day coming up, and BBQ season starting, this can be an alternative to your normal tri-colored rotini that you normally see in pasta salad. Add in some fresh ingredients and homemade dressing and you've got yourself a new taken an a classic, all-American favorite.
Greek Pasta Salad
1 box brown rice pasta
1 medium cucumber, cubed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup black or kalamata olives, sliced
1 small red onion, minced
1 package feta cheese
16 oz Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette (or your favorite brand of gluten-free dressing - I like Annie's brand)
Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Meanwhile, add all of your veggies and cheese to a bowl and marinate in some (4 oz) of the dressing. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and then pour about 8 oz over the pasta to let it soak in the flavor. Mix the veggies in with the pasta and let chill overnight. The next morning, or before serving, pour the remaining 4 oz of dressing in. Toss and serve.