Photography by David Wile Credits: Photography by David Wile
|This story was originally titled "Many Steps Forward" in the October 2014 issue.|
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Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim Credits: Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim
Planning a picnic or family barbecue anytime soon? Give yourself one less thing to worry about and go for one of our easy pasta salad recipes. It's sure to be a hit!
Pasta salads are great to make ahead, and are absolute tops for large groups. They also take the cake for being an extremely versatile dish – with a host of added ingredients, toppings and dressings, simple pasta salads can go from humble side to star entrée in no time.
We asked Test Kitchen food specialist Amanda Barnier to share some top tips for preparing pasta salads, and why they're a crowd favourite. Here's what she had to share:
Pasta salads: the perfect make-ahead dish
"Pasta salads can easily be prepped in advance and can feed a crowd with little effort," Amanda says. "It can be made in advance and cooled immediately after cooking."
One important tip to remember, she adds, is to "add dressing the day it's being served, because it will quickly absorb the dressing."
Pasta salad favourites
"I like using cheese filled tortellini for a hearty salad. Soba and rice noodles are great with Asian dressings, whole grain and coloured pastas," Amanda says.
How to store pasta salads
"Keep salads well wrapped and refrigerated," she says. "Salad has the same storage life as its ingredients. Seafood is best eaten within 2 days, and chicken (within) 2 to 3 days. If traveling, be sure to store pasta salads in coolers packed with lots of ice."
"Proteins should not be within 4 C and 60 C for longer than a four hour period," she adds.
The long and short of it: best pasta shapes
"Short shapes are best with vinaigrettes and creamy dressings, and chunky ingredients such as chopped vegetables and beans," Amanda says.
"Long pasta shapes are better used with thinly sliced vegetables, proteins, herbs, spices and vinaigrettes."
Tips for making pasta salad
"If making a pasta salad in advance, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and drain well," she advises. "Add dressing just prior to serving. Pasta quickly absorbs liquids; if the dressing is added too soon, the pasta will absorb it."
So whether you prefer chunky pasta salads with a cool, creamy dressing perfect for summer picnics, or entrée-worthy pasta salads with long rice noodles and a tangy vinaigrette, you're sure to find a new favourite with from our collection.
Easy pasta salad recipes:
Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad
A bright vinaigrette makes this pasta salad the ultimate dish to serve at any summer party.
Photography by Joe Kim
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This salad highlights many fresh flavours of the Mediterranean and is at its best when made with good-quality olive oil.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
The Best Macaroni Salad
This is a great keeper salad and perfect for a picnic or BBQ. Just make sure you pack it with plenty of ice packs to keep it nice and cold, both during transportation and at the table.
Photography by Annabelle Waugh
Chicken, Broccoli and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
Make this pasta salad for the whole family—the kids will love the mild dressing and round bocconcini cheese, while the adults will appreciate it as a light alternative to a sandwich.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
More great pasta salad recipes:
Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
This salad is simple to assemble for a quick family meal.
Warm Spinach and Ham Pasta Salad
Dressed with Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar, this penne pasta salad is a winner topped with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.
Winter Vegetable Pasta Salad
Cook everything together in one pot for this easy warm salad.
Pea, Pepper and Pasta Salad
This make-ahead salad is perfect for toting to a potluck barbecue or picnic. Toss the salad with the dressing right before serving so the peas stay bright green.
Summer Pasta Salad
Serve this light summery salad with crispy, homemade Parmesan Breadsticks.
Mediterranean Fusilli Salad
Fresh basil, hearty beans, piquant sun-dried tomatoes and al dente pasta make the perfect summer salad.
Warm Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
The dressing lends a taste of summer any time of year. The red peppers provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Quick and easy to make, this salad is perfect to take to a last-minute potluck or picnic.
Grilled Sausage, Pepper and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
This delicious pasta salad is made with tasty Italian sausage and lots of colourful peppers.
Bow-Tie Pasta Salad
This easy, colourful salad has the sunny fresh tastes of Greece.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Using tuna packed in both oil and broth means you'll need less oil in the dressing.
Salmon Pasta Salad
Start with melon wedges to whet your appetite for this quick and light dinner.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Grilled market-fresh veggies meet marinated olives and artichokes in this healthy dish made with whole wheat rotini. So chock full with taste and texture, carnivores won't complain about this vegetarian dish.
Party Parmesan Pasta Salad
Try this hearty salad studded with salami, olives, tiny tomatoes, roasted pepper and fresh basil.
Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
This easy tasty pasta salad is loaded with calcium. Omit the banana peppers if your child is not a fan of hot food.
Deli Pasta Salad
Add 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) extra pasta to the pot at dinner the night before to have enough for this lunchtime salad the next day.
Sirloin Steak with Green Bean Pasta Salad
Sirloin steaks paired with green beans and tomatoes make this salad a hearty entrée.
Looking for more great recipes? Try our best potato salad recipes.
This decade-by-decadge guide to menstruation covers irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, sudden pain and all the other issues that can pop up as we age.
Until Sarah turned 38, her Aunt Flo was nothing but predictable; she showed up every 27 to 29 days, accompanied only by a tinge of lower-back pain. There would be a slightly heavier flow on days 1 and 2, and no symptoms at all by Day 6. Then, one month, all hell broke loose. "Suddenly, my period was extremely heavy and clumpy," says Sarah. "I was changing a pad and a super-absorbent tampon every 10 minutes. It was like a murder scene." It wasn't just the amount of blood that threw both Sarah and her cycle for a loop; new symptoms surfaced over the next few months. "My whole midsection and vagina hurt. Plus, I had an overall sick feeling. I was in so much pain."
Though Sarah initially thought this was just her period changing with age, after about six months, when the excessive bleeding had become a regular occurrence, she made an appointment with her doctor. And it's a good thing she did. As it turned out, she had two uterine polyps, small tissue growths that are attached to the inner wall of the uterus and extend into the uterine cavity. Following two years of unpredictable flow, clotting and pain, Sarah's doctor performed an endometrial ablation and removed her polyps for testing—and her monthly visitor relented.
We'd bet there isn't a woman out there who hasn't been bugged, caught off guard or inconvenienced by her period. "Women just don't know a lot about their periods," adds Dr. Ashley Waddington, an obstetrician-gynecologist and assistant professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. "We get a lot of questions from patients about what's happening and what will happen in years to come." Here's a decade-by-decade breakdown of what you need to know.
By this point, you've probably had your period for almost two decades, and, unless you've been pregnant, it likely hasn't changed much since your late teens. A typical cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days, counting from the first day of your period up to (but not including) the first day of your next period.
That cycle is made up of two phases: The follicular phase starts on the first day of your cycle and lasts until ovulation day, when the luteal phase, which begins once the ovary releases an egg, takes over. Because the luteal phase almost always lasts about 14 days, you can estimate the date of your last ovulation by counting backward from the end of your cycle. For example, if your cycle was 30 days, you likely ovulated on Day 16.
In general, menstruation lasts four to seven days. But don't worry if that number fluctuates somewhat, says Dr. Melissa Mirosh, an ob-gyn in Saskatoon. You're still in the normal range if, one month, your period arrives on Day 26 and lasts for five days, and, next month, it doesn't come until Day 31 and it lasts for seven days. But if the duration of your period or cycle varies more drastically, there could be a problem. "The concern is that, if the cycle isn't normal, it could be because of an underlying medical issue or it could affect fertility potential," says Dr. Suzanne Wong, an ob-gyn at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto.
Prepare for: Pregnancy
Women who have irregular periods and are trying to conceive can have a rough go of it. "Predicting ovulation becomes harder when cycles are irregular, which makes achieving pregnancy more difficult," says Dr. Wong. Pregnancy can also affect what happens with your period postpartum. "After having a baby, when your hormones are still getting back to their usual routine, it can be quite normal to have chaotic cycles for six to 12 months," says Dr. Waddington.
Most women who breastfeed will resume menstruating six to nine months after delivery; those who don't may ovulate as early as three weeks after delivery and menstruate five weeks postpartum. "This is important to consider if you're resuming sexual activity, because you can get pregnant quite soon after delivery," says Dr. Waddington. And about that post-pregnancy period: There's no way to tell if it will be heavier or lighter than before, but many women who experienced excruciating cramps prepregnancy find that the pain has subsided, perhaps thanks to stretching of the uterus during those nine months.
"Between the late teens and the age of 40, women tend to get into a rhythm with their period; it comes in regular intervals, lasts about the same duration and has the same volume of blood, except perhaps in the years around pregnancies," says Dr. Mirosh. "But from about 40, things may get irregular."
Say hello to perimenopause, the seven- to 10-year stretch leading up to menopause. It usually kicks in at about age 45, though, in rare instances, it can start as early as 35 or not taper off until 59. "That's when the brakes come off and chaos occurs," says Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a professor of endocrinology and metabolism at The University of British Columbia and the founder and scientific director of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research in Vancouver. "Because estrogen levels are higher, it's a time of great unpredictability." Cue mood swings, heavy flow (in 25 percent of women), hot flashes and night sweats (in about 80 percent), shorter or longer cycles, skipped periods, sore breasts, low libido, insomnia, painful cramps and changes to skin, hair or weight. It's a misconception that these symptoms indicate you're in the throes of menopause; they're actually signs of perimenopause.
Prepare for: Heavy Flow
According to Dr. Prior, heavy bleeding is so common in perimenopause that it's often one of the first symptoms a woman will notice. But what's considered too heavy? "The definition of abnormal uterine bleeding is based on when a patient says there's too much blood," says Dr. Mirosh. Red flags (pardon the pun) include excessive clotting or cramping, accidents where blood soaks through to your clothing and simply feeling like your period is interfering with your life.
Heavy bleeding may be just that, or it might be a sign of another medical condition. Dr. Mirosh says one of the first signs of thyroid disease can be a change in menstrual flow. Uterine polyps or fibroids, usually benign growths that develop in or on the uterus, are other potential culprits. And, as a patient creeps toward 50, Dr. Mirosh begins to worry about endometrial cancer, which can also bring with it increased flow or clotting.
If you're like the average Canadian woman, you'll have your last period when you're 52. Whenever it happens, you won't actually know that you've been through menopause (which means the end of menstruation, when the ovaries run out of eggs and your body produces lower levels of estrogen and progesterone) until a year after the last time you menstruate. "It's a retroactive diagnosis," says Dr. Wong. "A woman who hasn't had a period in 12 months, who's been to her doctor to make sure there is no underlying cause for the missed periods (other than hormonal reasons) and whose period doesn't come back has gone through menopause."
Prepare for: Menopause
While many women find that their periods gradually taper off, some have a regular cycle right up until their last period, then never have one again, says Dr. Waddington. And though women will experience the most upheaval during perimenopause, most will also have at least some symptoms—such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes and insomnia—in menopause. But for many women, menopause can be a relief. "You no longer have to deal with the heavy flow," says Dr. Prior. "Bloating, swelling, breast tenderness and other high-estrogen symptoms come to an end."
Fruits to eat for weight loss. Credits: Getty Images
Fruit gets a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. Here's why avocado, dragon fruit, coconut, kiwi and even banana—yes, banana—are all diet foods.Fruit can be a real pleasure when you're cutting back on calories—it's wholesome, nutritious and provides a sweet hit of pleasure. A few surprising fruits even come with weight loss benefits.