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IMG_3516Cold pasta salads are always the rave in summer. They are good, and sometimes even scrumptious. But let’s get serious for a minute. Anything would be delectable if you poured on a heavy mayonnaise-based dressing, refined sugars, lots of bacon and hard-boiled eggs. They would even be yummy if you slathered on a bottle of your favorite salad dressing or added a dry packet of that same dressing swimming in oils and sugars. So let’s take a breath and make a cold, unadulterated salad that is simply good, and simply good for you. You know, the kind of salad where each bite rings true with your taste sense and makes you savor it a bit and appreciate the flavor for what it is. It is what I call ‘clean – eating’:  Simple ingredients that result in simple flavors that simply satisfy you. The ham adds a nice element and cooked, cube ham is surprisingly lean. This is very, very, do-able. Stick with me and see. Many of these ingredients are right there in your garden, and if you don’t have a garden, your grocers stocks these simple essentials. I like to use gluten-free pasta in salads as it stands up well and never becomes soggy from the dressing once cooked. Okay, I also think gluten-free is a healthy option for everyone, but it is your choice. The recipe is once more ridiculously simple. Go for it. Eat pure food that is elegant in its simplicity. Eat to live, and live to eat. Enjoy a serving of edible life insurance – it’s on me!

Salad

cok rotini g f pasta12 ounces gluten-free rotini pasta cooked according to package directions

½ large red, sweet pepper, diced

¼  cup minced, white onion

¼ cup fresh, or thawed, frozen, green peas

½  cup diced celery tops

½ cup diced, seeded cucumber

½ cup washed and drained kidney beans

½ cup blanched and diced green beans

1 cup cubed, cooked ham

Dressing

pas sal hamingred1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar (Aged at least 12 years or more. It’s easy to find, just read the labels at your grocers.)

1/3 cup olive oil – NOT extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic salt

 

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked drain in colander but do not rinse and immediately transfer to a large bowl. Mix the dressing and add to the pasta, stirring well. Add in the onion and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. After 30 minutes add all the other ingredients. Stir well and cover. Chill until thoroughly. Serve on a bed of fresh, crisp greens.

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