Side Orders: Assortment of fruits, veggies add color to pasta salad

Anne Braly

Could there be anything more refreshing on a warm late-spring evening than a pasta salad? Especially one that serves as an entree with the addition of chicken.

I've had this recipe tucked away for several years with the idea of making it one summer. But as life goes, it also traveled to the back of my I'll-make-this-one-day file. Do you have one of those? I'm stretching things by calling mine a file. It's more like a junk drawer in my kitchen filled with notes, recipes and lists of things that need done around the house. It's a drawer of dreams that many never realize. But every once in a while I'll pull one out, and this pasta salad was just as good as I thought it would be when I ripped it from the pages of an old magazine.

One thing I particularly like about this salad is that it can be made in stages. The dressing is best made the night before, allowing the flavors time to marry. The chicken can be cooked and diced the day before as well. And the almonds can be toasted a day ahead and ready to toss with the other ingredients the next day.

You can use any pasta, such as macaroni, spiral and even angel hair. But there's something delicious and eye-catching about a pasta salad using bow-tie pasta. It gives the salad a nice texture and wonderful eye appeal. After all, it's said we eat with our eyes before ever touching the tongue. Add to the bow-tie pasta a rainbow of colors - orange from the mandarin oranges and carrots; red from the tomatoes, red onions and bell peppers; and green from the spinach. Then, more texture is added with chicken and toasted almonds. It's sweet with the addition of orange juice and a little sugar. Rice vinegar gives it a pleasant tang. Altogether, this pasta salad is a thing of beauty and taste.

Mandarin Orange Chicken Bow-Tie Pasta

1 teaspoon finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix

2 teaspoons white sugar

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 (8 ounce) package bow-tie (farfalle) pasta

1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion

2 diced Roma tomatoes

1 carrot, shredded

1 (6 ounce) bag fresh spinach

1 (11 ounce) can mandarin orange segments, drained

2 cups diced cooked chicken

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

To make the dressing, whisk together the ginger root, rice vinegar, orange juice, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soup mix, sugar and garlic until well blended. Cover, and refrigerate until needed.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the bow-tie pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, and rinse under cold water. Place pasta in a large bowl.

To make the salad, toss the cucumber, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, carrot, spinach, mandarin oranges, chicken and almonds with the pasta. Pour the dressing over the salad mixture, and toss again to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Fish food

I was in Fairfax, California, recently visiting my middle daughter, and as we were driving out of her neighborhood one peaceful Sunday morning, we passed by one of the city's top fishmongers. He had set up shop in his driveway, selling fish fresh from the Pacific and other nearby waters. That night, we dined on the freshest sole and scallops, along with salmon. Maybe it was the company that made this such an unforgettable meal, but the seafood certainly played a huge role.

So one morning after my return home, I was bemoaning the fact that I don't have a fishmonger in my neighborhood, when a message popped up on my phone via Facebook Marketplace from Mark Gilmore, owner of Happy Gilmore's Seafood, announcing that his popular Royal Red shrimp were back.

Gilmore gets all sorts of seafood from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean delivered weekly from a source in Florida and will come to a designated place to sell it - a place that's convenient for you. In addition, he can set up shop in your neighborhood if there's enough interest. He does this for the folks in Sewanee, traveling up the mountain every other Saturday and selling out quickly. If you think there'd be enough interest in your neighborhood, let him know. His phone number is 423-505-5976 and his email is Or check out Happy Gilmore's Seafood on Facebook. All of his seafood, including shrimp, trigger fish, snapper and grouper, is wild caught.

Email Anne Braly at