Counter Action: Green pasta salad

It’s one of the hottest days of the year so far here, although you wouldn’t know it to look at my neighbours. I don’t think a day has gone by since Memorial Day that they didn’t have the grill fired up outside. Apparently sweat is weakness leaving the body.

As long as this heat wave lasts, I’m staying as far away from heat sources as I can. No pizza or soup or homemade baked goods for this girl. Even snuggling with my roommate’s cats is a bit much.

This salad definitely fits the summer bill of fare, though. I don’t know what it is about the snap of raw vegetables that feels cooler than cooked ones, but this dish has its fair share of crunch with broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers. Have some fresh asparagus spears you need to use up? Throw them in too. Sugar snap peas? Why not. Cooked chilled edamame? Have at it. This is your salad, my friends.

Green pasta salad

(based on Best Food Cloud’s ranch pasta salad)


  • 1 lb. rotini
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 pkt. ranch dressing mix


  1. Cook rotini until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool.
  2. Dice broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In separate bowl, combine yogurt, milk, and ranch dressing mix until smooth. (Based on how much whey is in your Greek yogurt, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of flour to thicken the dressing. If you like your salad extra flavorful, add up to 1 tsp. onion powder and 2 tsp. dried parsley.)
  4. Combine rotini, veggies, and dressing. Toss to coat.

Counter Action: Kasha varnishkes

kasza varnishkes

Last week I turned 25.

This made me ineligible for the Miss America pageant, which was very disappointing because I totally had a running chance before. (The narrow hips, sunny personality, and butt-glue are all optional, right?)

But on the bright side, it also means that my frontal cortex is a little more developed, renting a car just got easier, and I’m another year closer to menopause. So really, who’s the real winner here?


Everyone who officially saw this button. (Go us!)

If you’re teetering on the edge of “real adulthood” like I am, kasha varnishkes is the kind of dish that will give your confidence in your maturity. It’s filling, earthy, simple, and fiber-rich, and paired with a green salad, it’s a complete meal. If you’re a little fancier than me, you could also use it as a side dish for a hearty soup, like this Ukrainian borscht,  or a main-dish salad, like Martha Stewart’s flank steak salad or zucchini and chicken salad.

Kasha varnishkes

(adapted from this recipe)


  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 c. uncooked kasha (buckwheat groats)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. uncooked farfalle (bowtie noodles)
  • salt + pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add carrot and cook 2–3 minutes longer.
  2. Transfer onion–carrot mixture to another bowl. In small separate bowl, mix kasha and egg until kasha is well coated.
  3. Pour egg–kasha mixture into hot saucepan. Cook, stirring often, until egg is cooked.
  4. Add broth and onion–carrot mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until kasha is tender (~10 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, fill medium saucepan with water and bring to boil. Add farfalle and cook until al dente. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
  6. When kasha is tender, add cooked farfalle. Toss well, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with green salad. Keep refrigerated for up to five days.

Counter Action: Pasta salad with tomatoes, basil, and smoked Gouda


I’m feeling mutinous today. It’s week 2 of the quarter. On Thursdays, my first class starts at 8:30 a.m., and my last class finishes at 8:20 p.m. That’s twelve solid hours of sitting up straight, discussing management strategies, sketching crow’s-foot notation, and wearing pants that are tragically not of a yogish persuasion.

This is also my nineteenth year of being a full-time student. It’s been fun. It’s been real. I’ve loved having summers off to work. But I’m ready for a normal 8–5 schedule like everybody else. (Or whatever the norm is now. 7–5? 8–6?)

I’m also feeling whiny today. Sorry — should have warned you.

I might have to grin and bear the long days, with only comfy socks and fruit snacks for comfort. I might have to struggle through dozens of pages of dense prose every night. I don’t really have a choice about that.

But can I choose to post a tomato-heavy recipe in October? On a Thursday, in a feature called “Seasonal Sunday”? Bring on the culturally appropriated costumes: I’m going all Boston Tea Party on this salad.


In this metaphor, my schedule is the British, and seasonal awareness is the tea. Yeah, it’s labored. Stay with me.

In looking at my post calendar for the month of September, I’ve noticed that I’ve posted a lot of sweet recipes. There was this sweet-ish focaccia, then this chocolate chip–zucchini bread, and finally this berry bread with browned butter, with quite a lot of vegan pumpkin bread and gingersnap apple crisp and healthy(ish) chocolate cake touted along the way. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a problem. But it did make me think. In an effort to be more health-minded, I give you this salad.

We will gently ignore the fact that this is a pasta salad with mayonnaise and cheese. That’s irrelevant. Just focus on the tomatoes (mmm, lycopene!*) and the nasty carbs will melt away.

*Fun fact: “Lycopene” is derived from “lycopersicum”, tomatoes’ species name, which is comprised of two Latin words meaning “wolf peach”.


Pasta salad with tomatoes, basil, and smoked Gouda

(barely adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s original recipe) Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. penne
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. adobo sauce (or 1 minced chipotle pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes (or 3–4 large tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lb. smoked Gouda
  • packed 3/4 c. basil leaves


  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook penne until al dente. Rinse with cold water, drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, adobo sauce, salt, and pepper in small bowl.
  3. Halve cherry tomatoes (or cut regular tomatoes into bite-sized chunks).
  4. Cut basil into slivers and Gouda into bite-sized chunks.
  5. Toss penne, tomatoes, basil, and Gouda with dressing in large bowl. Salad is best on the day it’s made, but will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 1–2 days.

——— Photo credits: Baby by Ben_KerckX on Pixabay; “Boston Tea Party”, copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846, found on Wikimedia Commons.