No-Brainer “Not Dry” Dinner

We moved this summer, the first week of June.  We spent the last week of May gradually packing things, including the kitchen, and we ate off paper plates and used paper cups, and meals were mainly of the cupboard-non-perishable variety.  And then we spent the first two weeks of June unpacking and getting settled.  I knew it was taking me too long to get things “settled” when I asked my boys what they wanted for breakfast, and my oldest replied, “Dry stuff and water.”

So.  We went grocery shopping the next day, and I grabbed a few items to make a No-Brainer “Not Dry” Dinner.  We all need one of these every so often, right?  Something that’s fast, easy, nutritious and not a bowl of something microwaved…and not dry stuff.

I’ve heard and read this phrase often in the food world: “If it grows together, it goes together.”  I was feeling a bit Mediterranean, so I beelined it over to the olive bar and filled a cup of marinated artichoke hearts and a cup of Calamata olives, then from the produce section grabbed a fresh bunch of parsley, tomatoes, and a lemon, and knew I had the rest of the non-perishable ingredients at home to throw together a pretty good no-brainer pasta salad.

I found a great tip in an Eating Well Recipe Magazine:  A great pasta salad takes 5 steps:  1. Pick and cook a pasta.  2.  Load up on veggies.  3.  Add a lean protein (this doesn’t have to be meat, by the way–could be beans, nuts, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, etc.).  4.  Boost flavor (dried fruit, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled vegetables, etc.).  5. Dressing.  (You don’t need to have a mayonnaise or cream-based dressing to make a pasta salad satisfying–make an easy vinaigrette with an acid, oil, salt and pepper.)

not dry pasta salad

No Brainer Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: no brainer
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This recipe is for a Mediterranean Pasta Salad, but remember the 5 Pasta Salad steps to turn any ingredients of your choosing into a great pasta salad: 1. Pasta 2. Veggies 3. Lean protein 4. Flavor 5. Dressing.  If it grows together, it goes together!


  • 1/2 pound pasta, cooked
  • 8 oz mixed Calamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup roasted/salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • Vinaigrette: 1 lemon juiced, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and divide among serving bowls.
  2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and drizzle over the salads.