Pasta Salad

I love a great pasta salad. I love it at an outdoor barbeque or at a Sunday sports party. It is so inviting. To me it feels like love in a bowl. Everyone enjoys it – kids and adults alike. Hope you think so too. Enjoy!


6 – 8

Total Time:

1 hour

For Pasta Salad



  • 1 lb. rotini (curly) pasta

  • 1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise and seeded, then chopped into ½-inch pieces

  • 1 heirloom or beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped

  • 4 scallions, minced white and green parts

  • 1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), chopped in ½-inch pieces

  • ¼ C. basil, minced (reserve 1 Tbsp. for garnishing the top before serving)

  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano

  • 2 Tbsp. smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes

  • 2 tsp. celery seed

  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 2 tsps. black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt

  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seed

  • 1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese


    Prepare the Rotini pasta per directions on package but cook one minute less than package directions.

    Chop all of the necessary vegetables and then combine pasta and all ingredients in one large bowl.

    For Salad Dressing



    • ½ C. EVOO

    • ¼ C. apple cider vinegar

    • 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

    • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

    • Salt

    • Pepper

    • ¼ tsp. Herbs de Provence


    Mix the salad dressing and poor liberally onto the salad mixture and toss. This can be done an hour before serving and placed back into the refrigerator.

    Tip: If you do place it back in the fridge before serving, when you take it out reserve a good ¼ C. of dressing to re-toss the salad with as the pasta will absorb the dressing while resting a bit too much and it will taste slightly dry. Once you add the other dressing it springs right back.


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    Kale Salad

    My husband and I return every year to the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel for our anniversary. We did not get married at the Wynn, but we did get married at The Desert Inn Hotel, which was imploded to build the Wynn, so it is as close to sentimental as we can get.  At the Wynn Steak House, I tasted their Kale Salad and it was magnificent. For weeks I tried to duplicate it, and when I was done, I think they should use my recipe. It is a crowd pleaser whether you like kale or not and whether you are eight or 80. Enjoy!



    Total Time:

    1 Hour

    Ingredients for Salad

    • 3 heads of organic curly kale (cut chiffonade style–see tip)
    • 2 C. chopped pecans
    • 3 oz. organic dark amber maple syrup
    • 1 tsp. French sea salt
    • 1 Gala apple, shredded – or 8 oz. of freeze-dried apples
    • 12-15 shavings of fresh parmesan cheese

    For Salad Dressing



    • 2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 oz. organic dark amber maple syrup
    • 2 oz. apple cider vinegar to taste
    • 1 C. blood orange flavored olive oil from Temecula Olive Oil Company (Or good quality EVOO)
    • 3 Tbsp. good Dijon Mustard


      Combine the lemon juice, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. 

      Drop in the Dijon mustard and then as you are adding the olive oil, whip with a wire whisk and dressing will begin to emulsify and thicken.

      Tip: If you are serving a small group, it is easy to shred the apples right before serving and serve this salad with the fresh apples. But, if you are serving a large group, the stress of those apples turning brown is too much for me, so I have learned to substitute crunchy dehydrated or freeze-dried apples which add a fun tanginess and extra crunch!

      It also may seem tedious to roll the kale leaves together as a cigar and cut them into tiny chiffonade pieces. Just put on your favorite music and get down to it.  I promise you when you are done, (which is why you do it the day or 2 before you need them) the tiny little pieces make the kale so tender and easy to absorb the dressing and it is key to a great salad.

      For Candied Pecans



      • 1 ½ C. Pecans

      • ⅓  C. organic dark amber maple syrup

      • 2 tsp. French sea salt

      To Candy the pecans:

      Heat oven to 375 degrees.

      Combine the chopped pecans with 1/3 cup maple syrup on a sheet pan and toss until pecans are completely covered. 

      Sprinkle with French sea salt and roast at least 5 minutes or until you can smell the pecans roasting and they are browned. (Keep a watchful eye they burn quick after 5 minutes)

      Tip: I suggest using a Silpat (a mat made of food-grade silicone) as it is easier to roll the pecans off the surface and make into small pieces.  There is never any sticking.

      Allow to cool and allow the maple syrup to harden around the pecans.

      Tip: Do not touch until cool or you will lose the skin on your hand.

      On day of serving, combine the kale, apples, pecans and salad dressing and toss.  Dressing can be placed on salad up to 10 minutes before serving.  Shave the parmesan cheese on top as garnish.

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