In the summertime I crave veggies and pasta and mayonnaise.  I'm guessing it has something to do with my midwest upbringing and the happy memories of summertime potlucks.  It wasn't until I was about 16 years old that I learned "salad" meant lettuce to everyone else in North America. 

Just a note, if you're wanting the greens in Iowa or nearby and you're eating at someone's house or a church potluck, you'd better ask for a "lettuce salad" or a "side salad".  Yep, you need to specify "lettuce" in there or you'll be getting something either jiggly or mayo-y.  Where I grew up, "salad" means vegetables or marshmallows (or both) suspended in Jell-o, or a vegetable or pasta (or both) suspended in mayonnaise.

Although Jell-o has it's moments, mayonnaise is truly king at all food-centric functions.  When my friends have a potluck together, sometimes everything we bring is just a variation of mayo or cream cheese: Reuben Dip, Pickle Wraps, Deviled Eggs, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Suddenly Salad- the list goes on and on.

Midwesterners wouldn't dream of not having a jar in the fridge (and usually a spare in the pantry).  Come to think of it, non-midwesterners would probably be appalled at the vast array of mayo choices at the grocery stores here. If the mayo section is under two feet long, you're probably not in the Midwest.

So, in true celebration of my wonderful, mayo-ridden upbringing, I give you the recipe for a delicious pasta salad.  And with this salad, you can eat it as a little lunch before bed, or even as a full-blown supper.  Heck, enjoy it like we do, at the supper table with a Spotted Cow from the Midwest's glorious beer and cheese-making state of Wisconsin.

(see below for definitions if you're curious)
Reuben Dip:  Thousand Island Dressing, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and chopped Buddig corned beef melted together in a crockpot.  Smells terrible, tastes amazing.
Pickle Wraps:  Buddig corned beef slices smeared with cream cheese and wrapped around a little pickle.  You can't eat just one.
Deviled Eggs:  Hard boiled eggs, cut in half.  The yolk is removed and mixed with seasonings and, you guessed it, mayo.  Ten points if they're topped with a sprinkling of McCormick's Salad Supreme.
Spinach Artichoke Dip: Basically hot cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo along with cheese, spinach, and artichoke hearts.  In other words, comfort food heaven.
Suddenly Salad:  A boxed Betty Crocker concoction that is the shortcut little brother to the glorious lineage that is the pasta salad.  You'll see it at nearly every function that involves bringing your own dish, mostly in the Bacon Ranch version. 
Supper:  What you eat when you're at home or a friend's or family's house at around 6:00pm.  Although this is also added to the end of mostly any word like "Soup Supper", "Spaghetti Supper", ect., which usually means it's some sort of charity or fundraising event, but it's still around 6:00pm.  You can also add "feed" to the end of some of those words and it's along the same fundraising/charity line: "Spaghetti Feed" "Pizza Feed", etc.  "Waffle Feed" is a popular one, but that takes place in the morning.  Lastly, there is the "Fish Fry" which is amazing and it happens for Lent every year at nearly every Catholic church, American Legion, Knights of Columbus or even townie bars.  If you've never gone to one- you're missing out!
Dinner:  What you eat at a fancy function or restaurant at around 6:00pm (or around 12:00pm, but usually it's the 6:00pm time).  If it's Sunday, though, it's what you eat at 12:00pm, and possibly again at 6:00pm, and probably followed later by "a little lunch".
Lunch:  What you eat around 12:00pm when you're at work, school, or at home on a regular day.
little lunch:  a light snack (ha, who am I kidding, it's going to be pretty much a full meal) that you eat when you're not eating your main three meals.  Usually after getting home from church or a late night high school sports game.
Coffee Break:  Midwesterners "brunched" before it was hip, but we called it a "coffee break".  At about 10:00am after a long Saturday of cleaning house, my mom would sit us kids down at the kitchen table and we'd all split a Coke and have cookies, some leftovers heated up, or some fruit and cheese.  Ah, the good old days.  Coffee breaks are also widely enjoyed by the retiree crowd, although theirs just kind of continues on from their morning coffee.
Pop: carbonated sugar drink mixture.  Some midwesterners have started to say "soda pop" or "soda" to try to be more "with it" but it makes them sound silly and we laugh at them behind their backs. 
Spotted Cow: amazing beer from New Glarus brewery that you can only buy in Wisconsin
Salad:  Any combination of vegetables, Jell-o, fruit, pasta, marshmallows, mayonnaise, etc.  Pretty much anything goes, except I've never seen lettuce in one.
Lettuce Salad:  Lettuce.  Probably with ranch dressing (can't forget the mayo!)
Casserole:  Pretty much hotdish, except, alhtough frowned upond, you can leave out the can of something condensed (i.e., condensed cream of mushroom soup).  Usually involves potatoes, preferably in tot form.  Generally beige, cheesy, and delicious.
Hotdish:  This is more of a Minnesota thing, but I know what it means- it's basically a hot casserole, but if you didn't use a can of condensed something in it, it's not a hot dish, it's just a casserole.  Oh, and don't forget the cheese!
Dish:  If someone asks you to bring a dish to their party, I guarantee you they will think poorly of you if you show up with a plate.  It means bring a main dish of food. Oh, and be generous with what you bring- we here in the Midwest show our love and respect for each other with gifts of food.  Oh, and one last thing, we also show our love and respect by eating other people's food.  Always clean your plate, even if you think you're going to die from it- we don't waste other people's home-cooked food.  Also, you're going to be offered seconds, thirds, or even fourths after you clean your plate.  This is the proper rigmarole for seconds being offered:

Host: "Here, have a little more of that hotdish, you look hungry"
Guest: "No, thanks, I'm stuffed, but that was delicious"
Host: Picks up dish and offers it towards you, "Are you sure, it's a long drive home"
Guest: "Aww, I really shouldn't, I've had two helpings already, but thank you"
Host: "Okay, then, if you're really not hungry, but it's all just going to go to waste otherwise" (if this is your mother or grandmother, they'll just put a scoop on your plate while saying this)
Guest "Oh, alright, just a bit.  Wow, that was really good!"
Host: "Here, let me bag the rest up for you for the road"
Guest: (button pops off of shirt in stomach area)

3/4 c. uncooked orzo pasta
1 cucumber
1/2 lb. bacon
2 green onions
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 T. brine from pickle jar or 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar

2.  Chop the green onions into small pieces.  In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan, green onions, pickle brine, sugar, pepper, and lemon zest and stir to combine.  Place in refrigerator, covered.  To save time, I do this step while the bacon and pasta are cooking.

1. Cook the orzo in salted, boiling water.  While the pasta is boiling, chop bacon into small pieces and fry on medium heat in a heavy skillet until slightly crispy.  Once the bacon is cooked, spread onto a plate and place in the freezer to cool.

3.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to cool it down.  You'll want it to be very cold before you mix it into the sauce.

4.  Chop the cucumber into small pieces.  Take the bacon out of the freezer and the sauce out of the fridge.  Stir the pasta and bacon into the sauce and add the cucumber.  Stir well to combine.

p.s. it's just as good the next day!      

1 comment:

  1. This is hilarious!! Reminded me of my own Midwestern upbringing.