Summer Pasta

150 150 Frances
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Dear Kristin,

How’s life in the Covid House? I have my fingers and toes crossed that the terrible bug will pass you by! Still, I know that it’s no fun trying to take care of  a sick husband and son while at the same time doing your best to avoid the virus. 

Since you don’t have the bandwidth to write this week, I thought you and our lovely readers might enjoy an easy recipe just right for the summer months. Tuna Pasta Salad has been a Dowell family favorite for 25 years now. I found it in a book about family life and cooking, the kind that’s half memoir, half recipes (sad to say, I don’t remember the title or the author!). I’ve modified the recipe some, cut out half of the olive oil and all of the sugar from the vinaigrette, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same as it’s ever been. I made it last night and forgot the broccoli–no one missed it but me (some may have even applauded its absence). When no one else but Clifton and I are around to enjoy it, the recipe makes enough for two nights. 

I’d love to hear from readers what their go-to summer dinners are. And any tips they have for getting through July with sanity intact would be greatly appreciated. I’ve heard there are people who love summer and adore July, but I am oh so very much not one of them. For me, July is a hot and humid mid year blob of goo. Not a fan.

Anyway, Kristin, I hope everyone in your house gets well soon–and that you stay healthy! Fingers crossed!

xo, Frances

Tuna Pasta Salad


  • 16 oz whole wheat rotini
  • 5 oz can of tuna, drained (whatever kind you have in your pantry will do)
  • 15 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 cups broccoli crowns, steamed but still firm
  • 1 cup snow peas or sugar snaps
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 1” strips


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs mayo
  • ½ Tbs dijon mustard


  1. Cook the pasta until al dente (11 minutes or so).
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette.
  3. When pasta is cooked, run under cold water until cool.
  4. Mix pasta, tuna, and vinaigrette. 
  5. Enjoy!
  • Nancy

    Thank you for the recipe. I don’t cook, but I am visiting my mother later this month. At 96, she no longer cooks, so I have to come up with meals that she will eat. This one sounds like a winner.

    Kristin – take care. I hope everyone is better soon.

  • Vicki Holloway

    Hi! I would get thru July by being kind to yourself because it’s just way too 🔥 ! Then I would continue with a summer routine and know that somethings just wait for better weather. I don’t garden anymore for the season starting in July and everything is done in short manageable amounts of time. I am trying some new things and taking a vacation for my mental health! museums, boards games , making art, Call a friend , look at the stars and know it will end!! I am not a fan of july…

  • Audrey

    Kristin, hope everyone is well sooner than later.

    Frances, I’ve got an easy go to side that we enjoy here in the summer (however our summers aren’t as hot as yours)

    Texas Caviar

    Bring to a boil or heavy simmer 1/2 cup each:

    White vinegar
    Sugar (I use about 1/3 cup)
    Vegetable oil

    Let cool completely.

    You will need 1 can (15 ox) of each of the following that you drain and rinse:

    Pinto beans
    Black beans
    Black eyed peas
    White hominy

    Finely dice up about 1/2 cup of each:

    Onion (I normally go a little less)
    Bell pepper (any color)
    Small jalapeño without seeds or to taste

    Mix all of the above together and chill. Better the next day. I serve with those baked scoop style chips.

    Stay cool…we lived in Virginia Beach for 28-years, so I totally understand your July feelings.

  • Robin Leftwich

    My husband likes little sandwiches, made with Kings Hawaiian Rolls, turkey and cheese. I could live on green beans and corn! I sometimes throw together pasta alo olio, just whole wheat pasta, tossed in some olive oil that I sauté garlic for a minute, then add parm. Or any kind of whole wheat pasta, with pesto on it. If I want to be really formal, I’ll grill chicken or hot dogs. And fir the Fourth, I made potato salad. I use the old Best Foods/ Hellmans recipe, just boiled potatoes, celery, onion, sweet pickles chopped, and a dressing of mayo, a little vinegar and a little sugar. It’s a meal, especially with simple green beans!

  • Anne

    Oh no. Sick during summer! How horrible. When I need a break from cooking a full meal in the summer, I go with BLT sandwiches. I cut those beautiful tomatoes in thick slabs. I live in the Northeast. My shoulders start to freeze up from the cold in October and they don’t thaw out until May. The warmth of the summer helps me move about more easily. I need to bring a jacket everywhere though since most retail stores, churches and restaurants set their air conditioning on frigid. I will take July any time!

  • Tracie

    I’m sorry to hear about Covid at Kristin’s house. It’s miserable!

    My summer go-to recipe is Chicken Pita Pockets.

    1.5 lbs. chicken breast cut into 1” wide strips
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon dried thyme

    Coat the chicken and grill. (I use a Cuisinart Griddler.) Serve the chicken hot or cold in a whole wheat pita with coleslaw.

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