031 - The Spread

Salad for BBQ party

This week, #SundaySupper is getting everybody geared up for the upcoming July 4th holiday by sharing our favorite Summer BBQ Party recipes! Our hostess is the lovely Jennie from The Messy Baker, and she asked us to share dishes that are perfect for all your upcoming Summer cookouts. One of the things I love best about Summer parties is all of the fun side dishes. I recently remembered a popular potluck salad from my childhood in the 70s: layered salad. It was so pretty to look at, but let's face it: it's totally retro! I like the concept, though...so I decided to play around with the concept and see if I could come up with something a bit more modern and fun. What I came up with was my California Layered Pasta Salad. I layered cheese tortellini, veggies, ranch dressing, and toppings to create a modern spin on the classic dish.
Why California if I live in Texas, you may wonder? I used avocado and ranch dressing in the salad, which brought California to mind...and I just liked the way it sounded. This salad is pretty to look at and full of robust flavors. Even better, you don't have to turn on the oven to make this hearty salad. This salad is the kind of Summer dish that will make you the hostess with the mostess...or the most popular guest at the party. Let me show you how quick and simple this gorgeous salad is to whip up!

California Layered Pasta Salad

a Weekend Gourmet Original

Step 1: Add half a package of refrigerated baby field green salad mix to the bottom of a clear bowl. Top with 3/4 cup defrosted frozen corn kernels. Add cooked cheese tortellini from a 9-ounce package of refrigerated tortellini; top with a drizzle of your favorite vinaigrette.

Step 2: Dice one large or two small avocados and place on top of the tortellini. I tried to concentrate the majority of the avocado cubes toward the sides so they would show through on my layers. Sprinkle the juice from half a lime and your favorite seasoning on top. I used a garlic-onion herb seasoning from Chef Paul's Cajun Magic line.

Step 3: Make the ranch dressing my adding 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup milk and 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix to a large bowl. Whisk well to combine; it will be fairly thick. Evenly pour the dressing over the top of the avocados. Top the salad with the following ingredients: the reserved cooked bacon, 1 seeded and diced Roma tomato, 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese crumbles (or shreds), and 1/4 cup finely diced purple onion.

Step 4: Cover the salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best if you have time. The longer you chill, the better the flavors will combine. Just before serving, use salad tongs to to toss the ingredients together.

This salad is refreshing and full of exciting flavors and textures! The ranch dressing, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, double shot of cheese, sweet corn, onion and smoky bacon match really nicely with the tortellini and salad greens. This is an excellent side dish for any grilled meat. However, he tortellini makes this salad hearty enough to be a light dinner entree if served with some crusty bread. Trust me, you need to try this updated spin of the classic Seven Layer Salad very soon!

But first, make sure to visit the rest of the #SundaySupper contributors to see the Summer BBQ dishes they're sharing today. Then, come join us for a Twitter chat this evening at 600 CST. Our chats are always lively and fun...you never know what new food idea you'll come away with!!

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