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An ode to pasta salad

In high school, I swam six days a week, lifted twice a week and went to swim meets once a week.

No matter the date or location, these swim meets were never without pasta salad. Whether I brought my own from home or purchased a bowl from the concession stand, pasta salad was present.

The variations are endless, though I prefer a traditional version with only a few ingredients.

The process is pretty simple, really — boil water, throw some noodles in (mini penne are my personal favorite), let them cook for eight to 10 minutes. When my mom made a batch for a swim meet, she usually added tomatoes, peppers, cheese cubes and carrots, mixed in some Italian dressing, sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and let it chill in the fridge.

Week in and week out, this dish was a staple of my diet for four fall swim seasons. Yet once I graduated high school and swim meets became a memory (aside from a short stint on Miami’s club swim team), I completely forgot about pasta salad.

I had pasta with red sauce and pasta with buttered noodles, but that wasn’t the same. It wasn’t until the end of this past J-term that I remembered this dish, out of nowhere. 

I’d grown tired of sandwiches and soups — I wanted something different. (Here is probably a good place to mention that I’m not really interested in cooking.)

I don’t really have the patience for complicated recipes, so when I do cook, I look for simple recipes whose likelihood of turning out poorly is low.

Enter the pasta salad, which is so simple, a recipe isn’t even required.

At home, I took a trip to the grocery store, gathered the necessary ingredients — noodles, cherry tomatoes, carrots, Italian dressing and parmesan cheese — and returned home to put the meal together.

I am definitely one of those people who loses track of time, forgets to eat a proper meal and settles on crackers or a granola bar instead, which, I’ve been told, isn’t the best choice. So, when I came back to Oxford in January, I decided to make pasta salad again to avoid that problem. 

It turned out just as good the second time and, as such, I’ve decided that though swim meets are likely a thing of the past, this classic carb-filled dish is not.

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