Janet's Notebook
Reinvent Your Picnic Table with Perfect Pasta Salads

Shrimp Pasta Salad - Waco Style!

Picnic season is upon us! I'm so glad to see the sun again, and the grass between my toes has never felt better! Picnics are a big part of summertime for my family and me. Whether we pack our baskets and trek to the park, or plop down right in our own backyard, there's a simple joy to eating outside that just can't be beat.

Growing up, I always heard the old adage that mayo had no place at a picnic. Well, lucky for us, these days commercially prepared mayonnaise no longer presents such a picnic threat. The eggs used to make the jarred stuff are thoroughly pasteurized, doing away with much of the old-fashioned concern. That said, old habits do tend to die pretty hard. Over the years, I've accumulated quite a collection of mayo-free pasta salad recipes that still make regular appearances at my outdoor events. In fact, several recent favorites come from right here in the Club!

Case in point, Michelle Waco's Shrimp Pasta Salad - Waco Style. What do you do when you come up with a recipe that's so good it becomes a family favorite? Name it after yourself, of course! Michelle adapted her mom's pasta salad recipe to fit her own family's picky... er, I mean, unique... tastes. A big part of her tweaking involved nixing the mayo.

"This is my spin on my Mom's famous shrimp salad - adapted for my [husband's] tastes - which means no mayo or mustard," explains Michelle. "I tend to sprinkle, pour and shake until the consistency and flavor are to my (our) liking, so please bear that in mind as you make this and adjust the flavor to your liking."

And like it we do! In fact, a lot of people do. Michelle says that her pasta salad is now requested by friends any time there's a party or group trip. It's an easy dish to double and make ahead, so it's an ideal choice for a crowd.

Elaine Moretti of North Reading, MA has some hungry friends of her own. And when it comes to her Macaroni Salad, she's on to their plan! "Everyone always asks me to make double so they will have some to take home in the 'to go' containers," she laughs. Now if that isn't a glowing endorsement, I don't know what is.

Elaine's salad is heavy on the veggies and easy on the cook. While it does take a bit of time to chop up all the veg, the recipe more than makes up for it in flavor and versatility. We've had great success swapping different veggies in and out of the recipe. The flavor never seems to wane... It's that solid of a dish.

And finally, rest assured that you'll make quite a splash at your next party by serving up Robin Dextradeur's Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad. You know that unmistakable kicky flavor of Buffalo Chicken wings? Well, this salad's got it in spades. "You can vary the amount of hot sauce and dressing based on your preference," Robin says. She goes on to explain that her family likes to turn up the heat by adding MORE sauce than is even called for in the recipe. Top it off with some blue cheese and you've got a dangerously good way to punctuate your next picnic.

Don't forget that the "lazy days of summer" are called that for a reason. Recipes don't have to wear you out. Why not try out some new dishes that may just end up being staples on your own family's picnic table? Then pour yourself a drink, kick up your feet and allow yourself to go back for seconds. After this long winter, you deserve it.

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Natalie Loop - Jun 12, 2011
I don't know if anyone might have a recipe for I had a long time ago and have lost in the move from Arizona to Michigan. It was a macaroni salad the best I ever had with green olives, vinegar can't remember much the other ingredients, you let it set overnight and mix in mayo and other ingredients for the dressings.....If anyone has please share. Thanks so much!
jo lind - Jun 12, 2011
ditto to what joy asked!!
joy hulett - Jun 11, 2011
Where is the recipe for the shrimp salad
Robert Priddy - Jun 8, 2011
I've got a couple of pasta salads that you all might be interested in.

1. Greek Pasta Salad

2. Rotini Pasta Salad

I hope you all like them.