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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Kitchen Mailbox: Summer pasta salads punch up flavor with distinctive dressings

Thursday, May 25, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pasta salads have made the rounds from restaurant buffets to picnic tables. The problem is they all taste basically the same. But that's not the case with recipes we feature today -- each pasta salad has its own distinctive flavor.

Our first recipe combines pasta, meat, cheese and vegetables. We loved the addition of peperoncini and roasted red peppers -- it gave this salad an extra kick. The remaining three salads feature imitation crab meat or crab sticks -- but that's where the similarity ends. The dressings for these salads are different, as are the ingredients.

As you'll see with each recipe, we mention a certain pasta. This is not written in stone -- if you prefer another, use it.

Dee Jackson of McKeesport loves cold pasta dishes and crab salads made with imitation crab meat, and she was hoping our readers could provide her with a few recipes. As a result, we have some delicious keepers. Here they are.

Here's Monessen reader Sandra Smerilli's version of pasta salad.

Pasta Salad

1 pound bowtie pasta
1/2 cup chopped and drained peperoncini
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
1/2 cup Italian Dressing (Good Seasons or bottled)
2 tablespoons chopped tomato (Smerilli uses a whole, medium-size tomato, chopped -- so did we)
1/4 pound hard salami, diced
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 7-ounce jar roasted red bell pepper, drained and chopped
1 6-ounce can pitted large black olives, drained and cut in half
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

Cook pasta and drain.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Refrigerate.

Seafarer's Pasta Salad was sent in by Voneta Miller of Weirton, W.Va.

Seafarer's Pasta Salad

4 ounces uncooked pasta (we used seashell pasta, same as Miller)
1 8-ounce package imitation crab
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup mayonnaise (Miller uses salad dressing; we used mayonnaise)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl, stir. Mix dressing ingredients together -- add to salad and mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made a day ahead. Makes 4 servings.

Pasta Crab Salad was sent in by Margery Zeller of Franklin Park.

Pasta Crab Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces corkscrew noodles, cooked and drained
8 ounces imitation crab meat, cut into chunks
1 cup broccoli florets, partially cooked
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/4 cup green onion slices

Combine mayonnaise, Italian dressing and Parmesan and mix well.

Add cooked pasta and remaining ingredients and mix lightly. Refrigerate. Makes 4 servings.

Crab & Pea Salad was sent in by Helen Lamison of Carnegie.

Crab & Pea Salad

1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
1 8-ounce package imitation crab meat, flaked
6 to 8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Combine peas, crab meat and bacon. Combine mayonnaise and onion powder together, fold into crab meat mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

Product info

Joy Lang of Monessen wrote Kitchen Mailbox asking readers to help her in her hunt for butter pecan flavoring. Thanks to Helen Lamison of Carnegie, Joan Cisko of McMurray, Diana Scott of McKeesport and Doris Brown of Finleyville, we have an answer for Lang. Here are stores in our area that carry similar extracts:

Special Occasions, Washington Mall, Washington County, 724-228-2214. They sell imitation vanilla butternut flavor from Superior Products Co., Charlotte, N.C.

Frozen Eggs and Fruit Company, 121 Boggs Ave., Mount Washington. 412-431-6828. They sell Butter Pecan Extract.

and flavorings. It sells butter pecan and butternut extracts. The toll-free number is 800-247-5907.


Linda Dumin of Ross remembers a recipe from the '70s or '80s called Apple Cherry Cheese Pie. Some of the ingredients are apples, maraschino cherries and sour cream or cream cheese. If anyone has this or a similar recipe, please send it to the Kitchen Mailbox.

Shirley Metsger of Connellsville would like a recipe for a wedding soup similar to the wedding soup served at the St. Clair Country Club. One of the main ingredients is chicken meatballs.

Carolyn Czapor of Oakmont writes: "I bought a jar of Harry and David's Sweet'n Hot Pepper & Onion Relish. Mixed with cream cheese and pineapple, it makes a wonderful dip/spread. Does anyone have the recipe for making such a relish? The ingredients listed are tomatoes, sugar, water, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, dehydrated onions, red bell peppers, and spices."

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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