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California Spaghetti Salad

California Spaghetti Salad Recipe

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Delight in the flavors of California with this refreshing and colorful spaghetti salad. Packed with vibrant vegetables and tossed in a tangy vinaigrette, it’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a light summer dinner. Here’s how to prepare this delicious California Spaghetti Salad, complete with ingredients, instructions, cooking notes, variations, and more.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 1 can olives, sliced
  • 10 oz. container cherub or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Mrs. Dash seasoning salt
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon pepper
  • 8 oz. Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Spaghetti

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
  3. Drain the spaghetti and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Slice the olives, halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the cucumber, shred the carrot, and dice the avocado.
  2. Place all prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl.

Step 3: Assemble the Salad

  1. Add the cooked and cooled spaghetti to the bowl with the vegetables.
  2. Sprinkle Mrs. Dash seasoning salt and lemon pepper over the salad ingredients.

Step 4: Add the Vinaigrette

  1. Pour the Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette over the salad.
  2. Toss gently to combine, ensuring all ingredients are coated evenly with the vinaigrette.

Step 5: Chill and Serve

  1. Cover the salad bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.
  2. Before serving, toss the salad again and adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. Garnish with additional pepperoncini slices if desired.

Cooking Notes

  • Pasta: Be sure to cook the spaghetti just until al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy in the salad.
  • Vegetables: You can adjust the vegetables based on personal preference or what you have on hand. Bell peppers, red onions, or fresh herbs like parsley or basil can also be great additions.
  • Vinaigrette: The Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette adds a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. You can substitute with your favorite Italian or balsamic vinaigrette if preferred.
  • Make-Ahead: This salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. The flavors will continue to develop, making it even more delicious.

Variations

Mediterranean Style

  • Ingredients: Add crumbled feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and fresh basil. Substitute the vinaigrette with a Greek dressing.

Protein Boost

  • Ingredients: Toss in grilled chicken strips or cooked shrimp for added protein.

Vegetarian Option

  • Ingredients: Replace the spaghetti with spiralized zucchini or whole wheat pasta for a lighter version.

Keto and Low-Carb Adaptation

Keto California Spaghetti Salad

  • Ingredients: Use spiralized zucchini instead of spaghetti. Replace the vinaigrette with a keto-friendly dressing, such as a homemade avocado oil-based dressing.

Low-Carb California Spaghetti Salad

  • Ingredients: Substitute the spaghetti with shirataki noodles or a low-carb pasta alternative. Use a low-carb vinaigrette dressing.

Health Benefits of California Spaghetti Salad

California Spaghetti Salad is not only delicious but also nutritious, packed with a variety of fresh vegetables that offer essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here are some health benefits of key ingredients:

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  • Tomatoes: Rich in vitamins C and K, as well as antioxidants like lycopene, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Cucumber: Low in calories and high in water content, cucumbers provide hydration and essential nutrients like vitamin K and potassium.
  • Carrots: High in beta-carotene, carrots are good for eye health and immune function.
  • Avocado: Loaded with healthy fats, fiber, and potassium, avocados support heart health and may aid in digestion.
  • Pepperoncini: Adds a tangy flavor and provides a small amount of vitamins A and C.

Serving Suggestions

  • Picnics and Potlucks: California Spaghetti Salad is perfect for outdoor gatherings. It can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Light Lunch or Dinner: Serve alongside grilled chicken or fish for a complete meal. The pasta and vegetables provide a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.
  • Side Dish: Pair with grilled meats, sandwiches, or as a side for barbecue dishes.

Tips for Perfecting California Spaghetti Salad

  • Cooking Pasta: Ensure the spaghetti is cooked al dente (firm to the bite) to prevent it from becoming mushy when mixed with the vegetables and vinaigrette.
  • Vegetable Preparation: Dice or slice vegetables uniformly for even distribution and easy eating.
  • Chilling Time: Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Adjust Seasoning: Taste the salad before serving and adjust seasoning if needed. You can add more salt, pepper, or a splash of lemon juice for extra brightness.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I make California Spaghetti Salad ahead of time?

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  • Yes, California Spaghetti Salad can be made a day in advance. Store it covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

2. Can I use whole wheat pasta instead of regular spaghetti?

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  • Absolutely! Whole wheat pasta adds extra fiber and nutrients to the salad.

3. Can I substitute the Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette with another dressing?

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  • Yes, you can use your favorite Italian dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, or any other dressing that complements the flavors of the salad.

4. How long will leftovers of California Spaghetti Salad keep?

  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Stir well before serving again.

5. Is California Spaghetti Salad gluten-free?

  • To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free spaghetti or pasta and ensure all other ingredients are gluten-free, including the vinaigrette.

California Spaghetti Salad is a versatile and flavorful dish that celebrates the bounty of fresh vegetables and bright flavors. Whether enjoyed as a side dish, light lunch, or at a gathering with friends and family, its vibrant colors and delicious taste will make it a favorite. Try out different variations and adapt the recipe to suit your preferences. Share this recipe with others and spread the joy of good food!

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