Bow Tie & Pepper Salad is a mainstay for our summertime meals. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Every family has at least a few signature recipes; the ones that are made repeatedly for years and years then passed on to the next generation.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

In my family, one of these recipes is Bow Tie Salad. Once made a long time ago for a church potluck, this salad has since been requested again and again as in: “We’d love to have you over for dinner Saturday night. Can you bring the Bow Tie Salad?”

Or if I invite family over for a barbecue, I often hear: “You’re making the Bow Tie Salad, right?”

A big bowl of chilled bow tie pasta (farfalle) and some chopped-up colored peppers all sprinkled with fresh herbs and Parmesan is one of the simplest, quickest, most frugal things you can toss together. Add your favorite Italian salad dressing (I like Olive Garden or Wishbone Zesty Italian) and that’s all there is to it.

You can make this side dish fancier if you wish by adding diced cold cuts, other vegetables, olives, pepperoncini or cheese, but my family seems to like the bare-bones version and I’m OK with that.

Another cool offering to make ahead for warm summer days is my mother’s chicken salad.

This combination of marinated chicken, fruit and rice has been a regular in my mother’s bag of kitchen tricks ever since I can remember. The colorful salad in its cut-glass bowl often made an appearance at bridal and baby showers, family reunions, church luncheons and on the weeknight supper table when it was too hot to cook.

My thrifty, organized mother often had the marinated chicken in the freezer so that at a moment’s notice she could whip it out to thaw, add the other ingredients and impress any drop-in guests with a unique, delicious and healthy meal.

“The” Chicken Salad even accompanied us on family trips, packed into a recycled plastic ice cream pail. Kept in the minuscule refrigerator of our StarCraft fold-up camper, the salad was refreshing nourishment after a full day of traveling or playing at the beach.

When I left home, the chicken salad recipe came with me, of course. I have a special cut-glass bowl for serving it, just like Mom did. And just like Mom, I have made the salad in huge quantities for celebratory events, countless community potlucks, ladies’ luncheons and family picnics. The chicken salad has been the star of a dinner for four and for a party of 75.

I use basmati rice that is slightly undercooked and sometimes I omit the mayo and just add an extra splash of apple cider vinegar and orange juice to the mixture before tossing.

You can also forego the rice entirely and instead serve the salad in a toasted croissant or on a bed of fresh greens.

If you want to do things exactly as my mom would do, serve the salad with homemade banana bread. Spread a cloth on the table, arrange the flowers and put out your best dishes and silver. Know that you are carrying on our family tradition, one that can easily become your own.

Bow Tie & Pepper Salad

1 pound bow tie pasta, cooked al dente
2 large colored peppers, diced
1/4 cup fresh oregano/parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bottled Italian salad dressing, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill. Yield: 6 servings

My Mother’s Chicken Salad

5 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups seedless grapes, cut in half
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 (16-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (8-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup slivered almonds (toast first, if desired)
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Combine oil, orange juice, apple cider vinegar and salt. Pour over chicken, cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

In a large bowl, combine rice, fruit and nuts. Add chicken. Fold in mayonnaise. Yield: 10-12 servings

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