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California Spaghetti Salad

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California Spaghetti Salad is a fresh, colorful, and vibrant dish perfect for any occasion. Packed with a variety of vegetables and tossed in a zesty dressing, this salad is both refreshing and satisfying. It’s ideal for potlucks, picnics, or as a side dish for your summer barbecues.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium zucchinis, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cans (2-¼ ounces each) ripe olives, sliced and drained

For the Dressing:

  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Spaghetti

  1. Boil Water:
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook Spaghetti:
    • Add the broken spaghetti pieces to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
  3. Drain and Rinse:
    • Drain the spaghetti and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool completely.

Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Chop Vegetables:
    • Halve the cherry tomatoes.
    • Dice the zucchinis, cucumber, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and red onion.
  2. Drain Olives:
    • Drain the canned olives and slice if they are not already pre-sliced.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

  1. Combine Ingredients:
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the Italian dressing, grated Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, paprika, celery seed, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad

  1. Mix Together:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled spaghetti, chopped vegetables, and sliced olives.
  2. Add Dressing:
    • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Chill:
    • Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld together.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Garnish and Serve:
    • Before serving, give the salad a good toss. You can garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese or fresh herbs if desired.

Cooking Notes and Tips

  • Customize the Vegetables: Feel free to add or substitute other vegetables such as carrots, celery, or broccoli.
  • Make Ahead: This salad can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator, making it even more flavorful.
  • Dressing: You can use store-bought Italian dressing for convenience, or make your own if you prefer.

Variations

Protein Addition

  • Add Chicken: Grilled chicken pieces can be added for extra protein.
  • Add Beans: Cannellini beans or chickpeas are great additions for a vegetarian protein boost.

Different Dressings

  • Greek Dressing: Swap the Italian dressing for a Greek dressing and add feta cheese and kalamata olives for a Mediterranean twist.
  • Ranch Dressing: For a creamier version, use ranch dressing instead of Italian.

Serving Suggestions

  • Main Dish: Serve as a light main dish with a side of garlic bread.
  • Side Dish: Perfect as a side dish for grilled meats or sandwiches.
  • Potlucks and Picnics: Ideal for sharing at gatherings, as it holds up well at room temperature.

FAQs

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta? A: Yes, you can use any pasta shape you like, such as rotini, penne, or bow-tie pasta.

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Q: How long does this salad last in the refrigerator? A: The salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Q: Can I make this salad gluten-free? A: Yes, simply use gluten-free pasta to make this salad gluten-free.

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California Spaghetti Salad is a versatile and delicious dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Its vibrant colors and fresh flavors make it a favorite at potlucks, picnics, and barbecues. Easy to make and customize, this salad will become a staple in your recipe collection. Enjoy the refreshing taste of summer with every bite!

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