Gotta Love Nebraska

Why Nebraska? Why not! While some dream of exotic places to spend their days, Nebraska has much to offer for those with the right fit. It all depends upon what matters to you.

Fresh Air. The air is clean and sweet. Some say it actually feels good in your lungs. Amazing skies. Be it sunny days, storming nights, dawn or dusk, nature is sure to put on a show in the Nebraska skies. Nature might keep you up at night. The sounds of nocturnal animals and insects are everywhere. For some city dwellers, it might not seem like a lullaby. For country folks, it’s music to your ears.

Oh, but there is more . . .

Nebraska is home to a lighthouse without a sea. The Linoma Beach Lighthouse in Ashland, Nebraska, sits on a man-made lake. The lake is the result of the Lyman-Richey Sand Company that began extracting sand and gravel on the north bank of the Platte River.

Almost all of Nebraska is farmland, that’s 91% of the state. It makes sense that a quarter of the jobs in Nebraska are related to agriculture in some way. The amount of land used to produce corn and livestock in Nebraska is greater than any other state, including Iowa and it’s field of dreams.

In Omaha, if you stop in a bar for a tall cold beer, you’ll find a surprise. Beer sellers are required to brew soup for their clientele sipping beer. It’s the law and there are no exceptions. Hum, wonder if they serve up Beer Cheese Soup? Would seem the logical choice.

Finally, now that the pandemic is becoming a thing of the past, I thought it would be nice to look back and see what recipes the folks in Nebraska were searching for while home-bound. Beef? Nope. Corn? Nope. Not even pork made the cut. The good people of Nebraska were interested recipes for Pasta Salad.

I thought we’d make a pasta salad that can also be a meal. Stuffed with deli meats and fresh vegetables, this salad is oh so delicious. Enjoy!

Stuffed Pasta Shell Salad 
20 Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 Head Romaine Lettuce
1 bottle Girard’s Old Venice Italian Vinaigrette
1 lb Deli Chicken, thick sliced
5 oz Italian Salami, thick sliced
1/2 cup Basil Leaves
2 firm Roma Tomatoes
1/2 Cucumber

Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil. Add pasta shells as directed on the package, about 12 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the root end from a small head of Romaine Lettuce. Slice the lettuce in ribbons. Scatter the shredded lettuce in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Drizzle with about 1/4 cup or so of the dressing. Toss and set aside.

Chop the deli chicken into bite-size pieces. Scatter in a large bowl. Next chop the salami. Scatter in the bowl over the chicken. Toss to blend.

Stack the basil leaves, cut into ribbons, set aside. Dice tomatoes into small pieces, set aside. Cut cucumber in half. Peel half a cucumber, then slice into rounds. Chop cucumber rounds into small pieces. Toss everything in the bowl over the meat and mix well.

Pour remaining vinaigrette over the salad mixture. Toss to coat. Taste and adjust with a little salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.

Drain pasta, allow to cool to room temperature. Once the shells are fully cooled to room temperature, stuff with the chopped salad. Arrange the stuffed shells over the lettuce bed in the casserole dish. Fit snugly together to help the shells hold their shape. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

This is wonderful with warm garlic bread and a well-chilled bottle of your favorite white wine.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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