I make it no secret that I dislike mayo laden salads and I have been finding PILES of folks lately who feel the same way so I thought that maybe we would do 12 days of pasta salads to countdown to the July 4th weekend…how does that sound??!??!

This is an old standby and probably the easiest to make in the world. If you really dislike prepping vegetable swing by the salad bar or the packaged vegetable isle in your supermarket. Wegman’s has a huge selection of prepared vegetables or vegetables that will cut your prep time significantly.

Summer Pasta Salad

serves 8 – easily adjusted for larger gatherings. I generally make this to serve 25 as it can be a main course salad too.

1/2 c olive or salad oil
1 t salt
1/8 t crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 T snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1 T salt
8 oz fusilli pasta
8 oz grape tomatoes
1/2 c cubed red pepper
1/2 c cubed green pepper
1/2 c cubed spanish onion (I love to use vidalia’s when in season)
1/4 lb provolone cheese, cubed
1/4 lb mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 20-oz can canned garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 lb dry salami, slice into quarters
1/4 c small pitted black olives
4 medium mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 T chopped parsley
2 T torn fresh basil
1 T fresh oregano

1. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk until well blended

2. In a large pot bring 3 quarts water, salt and salad oil to a boil. Add pasta; bring back to boiling; cook uncovered stirring occasionally with long fork to prevent sticking, just until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain well; do not rinse.

3. Turn into large bowl; add dressing mixture; toss gently to combine. Cool completely. To pasta mixture, add salad ingredients; toss lightly to combine. Turn into serving bowl; Refrigerate covered 1 hour.

Clients and family have told me they prefer this salad at room temperature rather than chilled and I tend to agree.

Dear home wine makers in the Southern Tier, we are hoping to put together a gathering for August. We will meet in the greater Binghamton area somewhere centrally located to make it easy for members to get to. Gas prices are so crazy I don’t want anyone to have to go any farther than necessary.

Emails this week have been from many, many new wine makers…hooray! Good to have you with us! Please feel free to post questions on HomeMadeWine.net any time. The purpose of the forum is to have questions and answers available to help all who may need it. There are no silly questions…except the one not asked!

Wine made with summer fruits is the most popular category right now on HMW so I have been highlighting a few really simple and delicious recipes here for those of you who haven’t visited HMW yet. Strawberry season is in full swing here in the Southern Tier so I thought I would share one of the most popular Strawberry wine recipes with you.

Strawberry Wine

Yield: One Gallon US


4 lbs. strawberries
2 lbs. sugar
1 gal. water
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient
1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
1/2 tsp. acid blend
1/4 tsp. grape tannin
1/4 tsp. potassium sorbate
1 tsp bentonite
1 pkg wine yeast


  1. Heat water to near boiling, add berries and crush.
  2. Cool and add all other ingredients Except the Potassium sorbate.
  3. Place in fermenter and proceed as with grape wine, breaking cap daily.
  4. Rack after a week and again 3 weeks later.
  5. Continue to ferment until clear and the PA reaches 0%.
  6. Add the Postassium Sorbate to stabilize and bottle as usual.

Don’t be afraid of the chemical names or unusual terms…these are common and food safe additives that will protect your wine and let is become the best it can be.

The tutorial and equipment list is located here and supplies that you need can be purchased at Doc’s homebrew or your local Brewer supply shop. There are several online as well. It should cost you around $35 in equipment in supplies to make your first wine. After that all you do is replace you basic needs such as stabilizers, cleaners and things of that nature. Your largest expense will be your glass carboys (usually around $25-30) and you are better off trying to get them locally because shipping is a killer.

What’s for dinner tonight? Leftovers! It has been a cooking marathon around here and today we are going to just pick and graze at all the dribs and drabs that are stashed in the fridge. Speaking of strawberries…We have to bottle our 2007 Sangiovese today, which has some nice strawberry notes. It’s always exciting when you bottle a wine!

Have a wonderful Sunday and do something delicious!

Creatively serving the Greater Binghamton area in the lovely Southern Tier of NY. www.foodwineartdesign.com

Colleen is a private caterer and personal chef, she also hosts the internet’s favorite resource for the home wine maker at www.homemadewine.net. Her blog and websites are viewed by thousands each day who enjoy her simply explained, illustrated and photographed recipes and helpful tips.