Clean Out the Fridge Pasta Salad

My son plays t-ball on Monday evenings from 5:30 – 6:30, which is smack-dab in the middle of all things dinner-related for that evening.

It really throws a wrench in the evening routine, but it’s only for 8 weeks. Plus, there are enormous amounts of cuteness and hilarity when you try to teach 4 and 5-year-olds how to play baseball. So we will deal because it is totally worth a belly laugh or two every Monday…and the boy enjoys it!

To work around this scheduling hiccup, I’ve been feeding the kids a very early dinner, at 4:30 or 4:45 p.m. Last week I was trying to figure out what I could bring for my husband to eat when he meets us at the field that wouldn’t get cold or soggy, but would still be packed with protein and veggies.

That’s when it hit me! My go-to pasta dish, my favorite one of all time, would be just the ticket because you are supposed to serve it cold. There is a reason I’ve labeled it my go-to pasta dish in my head! It takes me a moment sometimes.

One of my cousins actually made me something similar many moons ago. Since most of our meals don’t start from a box, I was suddenly enlightened into the world of Betty Crocker’s Suddenly Pasta Salad, classic version. I love that little seasoning packet it comes with!

We aren’t a family of big pasta eaters, which is kind of funny since we do love carbs. I’ll cook up pasta maybe once every 3 or 4 weeks? If I do, I’d prefer to have this dish over spaghetti.

When I make this dish, I literally go through the fridge pulling out most every type of veggie I have on hand. I chop it up and throw it in with the already cooked and cooled pasta. There’s no rules, no right or wrong. Just use what you have in whatever amount you want. The freedom!!!

For this version I used a handful each of peas, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, onions. I also added a handful of chopped kalamata and green olives. Don’t forget to top the dish with parmesan cheese!

To add some protein and make it more of a meal instead of a side, I boiled one chicken breast, chopped it up and threw it in the mix. (My chicken was still frozen when I put it in the boiling water. This technique is a lifesaver when I haven’t planned ahead!) I also had some salami from Trader Joe’s that I sliced up and added too.

Sunflower seeds, yellow/red peppers, cauliflower and broccoli are also excellent additions to this pasta. Basically, whatever you have in your refrigerator!

If you like a little spice, then I definitely recommend adding black pepper and red pepper flakes. It’s so good.

If you look closely, there is pasta in there somewhere!

On a hot summer day, or a rush-to-get-to-practice day, this pasta dish hits the spot. Happy bellies and an easy dish make for a happy mama!

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