…because it’s Jenny Morrissey Pasta Salad time!
This is not just any pasta salad. It was born out of necessity, creativity, and sheer ingenuity. It’s a hybrid of several delicious elements and, naturally, an Ina Garten recipe. In order to grasp the complete origin of this salad, we have to go back. Way back to the summer after I graduated from college. Picture it: Granville, Ohio 2006.
My best friend from school (and now awesome BK roomie) was coming to my house for a few days of lounging by the pool, soaking up the sun, and inhaling my mom’s delicious cooking. It was a great way to evade the perpetual job search and crippling fear that came with it. I had just picked Jenny up from the airport and we stopped at the grocery store to get a few things. Being the gracious guest that she is (she’d already shown me the hand crafted chocolates she brought for my parents), Jenny intended to grab a bottle of wine to go with dinner. The following exchange took place:
Jenny: “I’m going to grab wine for dinner. What are we having?”
Me: “Chicken salad.”
Jenny: “You mean like, salad with chicken on it, right? Not like, meat salad?”
Me: “No, it’s definitely meat salad…”
This startling fact then occurred to me: Jenny despises mayonnaise! I knew this! Of course I knew this. I’d always known this. How could I have neglected to mention this to my mom? I immediately pick up my phone and call my mom to tell her to change the night’s menu. Jenny frantically tries to stop me because she is kind and considerate and would never dream of making a request like this. She would gladly smile and eat whatever she was served. At the time she wasn’t quite aware of the culinary prowess my mom possesses. The woman can make anything and absolutely loves to entertain (I wonder where I get it?) I knew she had at least half a dozen potential menus up her sleeve and one little dinner switcharoo was not about to throw her. Jenny felt horribly guilty for changing our dinner plans because of her aversion to the egg-based condiment. I’m fairly certain that her guilt has since faded, especially since she now has a pasta salad named after her.
The next evening my mom was planning to bust out one of her classic summer feasts. Juicy grilled burgers, bright, crisp corn on the cob, baked beans, and a plethora of summer salads. Typically these are mayonnaise based — the usual potato and pasta salads. However, she was determined that Jenny not be left out of the side salad mania. Thus, the Jenny Morrissey Pasta Salad was created. It’s basically Ina’s Fresh Corn Salad mixed together with pasta, and tossed with cherry tomatoes and my mom’s home made vinaigrette. The corn salad is made with olive oil and apple cider vinegar which gives it a little kick. A chiffonade of fresh basil, an essential element of the corn salad, makes for a burst of color and flavor.
This salad is light, tasty, simple, and named after one of the coolest people I know. It’s great for parties and barbecues because there’s none of that pesky salmonella to worry about. I took it to a rooftop Memorial Day party and even though we ate it out of plastic beer cups and only had about 4 forks, it was a huge hit.