Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
The last time I made this recipe, I made it for David’s grandpa – Ken. The truth of the matter is, he’s my grandpa too. I just love him. He loves many things; outdoors, hard work, hunting, but his most treasured possession is family. He spent countless hours being present with his grandsons and their families.
When we were new parents, Ken & Alice would “just happen to be in the neighborhood” and drop in for frequent afternoon visits. As a new mom, I often felt isolated and truly loved every minute of those surprise visits. If it wasn’t them visiting us, it was us heading 45 minutes north to visit them.
We always looked forward to our summer tradition of spending a week ((with the entire clan)) at the lake, hosted by Ken & Alice. Their greatest joy was sitting on the deck watching their sons, grandsons and all of the growing families – as we played, laughed, and – well, ate.
Speaking of eating, teriyaki, cheese grits and tabouli (with pickle juice) was the shortlist of “Ken’s favorite meals”. And it’s especially thanks to his affinity for pickle juice that I started making this recipe. Ken passed into heaven in August of 2012. It doesn’t seem like 4 years should have had permission to pass without him, but time stubbornly proceeds. I really missed him too much to taste this pasta salad and then all of the sudden, I missed him so much that I could not seem to make it fast enough.
And with that first bite, I could close my eyes and flash right to the last time I made it for Ken and remember the delight that washed over his face as I told him the star ingredient :: pickle juice. This recipe does that magic thing food can sometimes do – it feeds the heart. At least that is what it does for me.
Before we talk recipe details (and in honor of a very political year in our country), I can truthfully say this recipe is Great Grandpa Ken approved.
Start off by mixing the pasta salad dressing ::
- ¾ beef bouillon
- white wine vinegar
- pickle juice
Boil one (1 pound) bag of your favorite dried pasta, according to package instructions.
While your pasta is boiling, dice & chop the remaining ingredients. Here is a little tip for the onions ::
- since the onions will be raw, after you chop them – place them under running water for 30 seconds. This little step will remove that harsh onion flavor that can overpower a recipe & linger on the breath in such an obtrusive way. ((Ain’t nobody got time for that!!))
Add the chopped herbs, tomatoes & the star :: DILL PICKLES!
Fold in the dressing, giving it all a good stir, and then let it chill in the fridge for a few hours until ready to serve. I have found that different types of pasta require different amounts of dressing – so be prepared to add another scoop of mayo & a few more splashes of pickle juice.
The fresh dill & chives add that extra freshness and the crunch of those salty bits of dill pickle, mmm. I believe this is the perfect pasta salad! But even better than the taste is the memory of sharing it with one of my favorites.
- 1 lb cooked pasta (I used fusilli)
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 1 ¾ c light mayo (I prefer Hellman's)
- ¾ c dill pickle juice
- 1 ½ T white wine vinegar
- ¾ t beef bouillon
- 3 T HOT water
- a dash of Lawry's seasoning (optional)
- 3 T fresh dill, chopped
- 3 T fresh chives, chopped
- 2 T finely chopped sweet onion, rinsed*
- 6-7 dill pickle spears, cubed
- 1 ½ c cherry tomatoes, halved
- salt & pepper to taste
- Dissolve the beef bouillon in the hot water and then continue to combine all of the dressing ingredients, stirring thoroughly.
- In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the cooked pasta and add the remaining chopped ingredients. Taste and add salt & pepper according to your desired seasoning. Stir gently to combine, making sure the pasta is completely coated by the dressing**.
- Chill for 2 hours to overnight.
- Serves 12
- *rinsing the chopped onion under cold water for 30 seconds helps to cut down on that intense raw onion flavor.
- **if the pasta salad isn't saucy enough, add another scoop of mayo and a few tablespoons of pickle juice in order to reach your desired consistency.