Spicy Pasta Salad: Or, Inadequate Irene Strikes Again

spicy pasta saladDo you get nervous about bringing a dish to a potluck? Does the thought of someone else judging your creation make you sweat, even just a little? Well, that’s how I feel about our potlucks with my in-laws. When we receive an invitation to the latest get-together, I instantly become Inadequate Irene.

My husband’s family—a very large family bursting with kids—is full of sisters who are experts at all things homemade. Whether it is redecorating their houses or building a city out of icing, they are able to do it. No job is too big or too difficult for these ladies. And me? Well, I often feel lucky if my muffins turn out ok. Although I know these potlucks are not a competition, I seem to believe that I must prove something with my offering.

And then there are the varying tastes and preferences among the family members. The kids in general don’t like things too spicy—which means, anything beyond mayonnaise. Some of the kids don’t like chocolate while others love it. And others don’t like fruit flavors, and some do. It’s pretty much a no-win situation when choosing a recipe.

Sometimes, like today, I’ll pick something that’s a classic recipe for the season with a little bit of pizzazz. For our cookout today, I chose Ree Drummond’s Spicy Pasta Salad. I couldn’t find smoked gouda at the grocery store, and so I substituted a mild chipotle gouda. That ingredient was certainly a bit more expensive than what we usually purchase, but it is for a special occasion. More “love calories.” Luckily, we still had some basil in the garden for use in the recipe. All in all, the salad came out well and is currently waiting in the refrigerator for its big debut.

I’ve had my husband taste the salad several times. He is currently frustrated with Inadequate Irene and told me that the salad is “Fine,” with a capital F. I suppose that I will take his word for it, hoping that this won’t be another crash and burn situation with the family.

Happy Labor Day, folks! Here’s to all the confident cooks and Inadequate Irenes out there who want to make their family’s celebration great.

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