Dave Frank tuna pasta salad

Dave Frank's Tuna Pasta Salad.

Now that summer is here, and cookouts and neighborhood parties are in full swing, one of the most common phrases I hear is, “What can I bring?” Then everyone brings a bag of chips.

Well, since everyone is looking for something to add to their repertoire, here is a great summer salad recipe that my family would eat twice a week if I made it. It is tasty and actually good for you (I know, not really a summer requirement), Plus it is a good protein addition for the non-red meat eaters out there.

This recipe is one I created in an attempt to recreate some family memories of favorites (I sort of jammed three memories together on this one) This is meant for a party, so it serves up to 12-16 (if they take a smaller scoop and don’t pile it on — otherwise it serves 4 fairly greedy folks). Let’s get started!

Tuna Pasta Salad

• 16-ounce package of Rotini

• 11-ounce package light tuna

• 1 large ripe tomato, chopped

• 1 cup diced sweet onion

• 2 cups diced celery

• 12 ounce package frozen peas

• 2 cups light mayo

• 1/2 cup grated parmesan

• 1/2 teaspoon celery salt

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

• 1 teaspoon salt

Start by getting a stock pot of salted water going to cook your pasta, you want it to be pretty salty as this will get a lot of flavor into the pasta. This applies to anytime you are cooking any pasta for any dish by the way! Cook to al dente (This means “to the tooth,” or when the pasta resists the bite just a little — not squishy).

Now, normally, you should never rinse pasta if you are serving it hot, as this rinses off the starches that helps sauces bind to and coat your pasta. In this case you will need to rinse it to cool it down enough to completely stop the cooking process get it cool enough to mix with your other ingredients without creating health issues. Place all your remaining ingredients is a large mixing bowl and mix well.

I use a “lite” mayo as a nod to better health and nutrition, but feel free to use regular mayo if you like. I recommend letting this sit overnight so the flavors can really marry and develop. You can serve this as a main dish with toast points, crackers, over chopped lettuce, or just as a side dish to BBQ. We pair this with a pinot grigio wine spritzer: wine, soda water and a squeeze of lime over ice — very refreshing!

Now find a spot in the shade and enjoy. Until next time, Mangia.

Dave is a retired local chef whose family members are willing guinea pigs for his food adventures.

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