Maryland Shrimp Pasta Salad

I had a very relaxing 4th of July at the beach… minus the really weird tan lines, sleeping in an igloo (not literally, but it felt like it!) and coming home sick. It was filled with sun, friends, drinks and good food. It had me thinking of all the summers spent at the beach throughout high school and what I love most about summer.

Nothing reminds me more of summer growing up in Maryland than steamed crabs and BBQs. When I moved to North Carolina, my piece of summer away from home came to be my mom’s Maryland shrimp pasta salad. It was always a staple side dish at all family BBQs and steamed shrimp was the closest to Maryland seafood I could get my hands on, especially since I kept an economy-sized container of Old Bay in my spice cabinet (yes, I have a spice cabinet… a rack just doesn’t cut it!).

I don’t think this recipe is “famous,” but it’s become famous among friends and at parties I’ve taken it to as a side dish. I’ve passed the recipe on more times than I can count–it’s easy breezy and you only really need to know how to boil pasta. It’s even been eaten alone as seconds and thirds, or as a cold salad for lunch. I’ve also made this recipe vegetarian by eliminating the shrimp and adding additional fresh vegetables. The list of vegetables I use isn’t all-inclusive, so feel free to experiment with what you like!

Maryland Shrimp Pasta Salad

1 lb. shaped pasta (Rotini or Trio Italiano)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, shredded
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 bell green pepper, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 lb. steamed shrimp, peeled (optional)

Dressing

1 cup mayo
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Old Bay to taste

Boil and cook pasta. Drain and chill immediately using cold water and ice cubes. Chop the vegetables and peeled shrimp in a large bowl.

Mix and pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables and mix well. Next, season with Old Bay to taste (Note: As a Marylander, I literally *dump* Old Bay on it when I make it… easily 6-10 tablespoons if not more. It also depends on if you have Old Bay on the steamed shrimp already.)

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. See, didn’t I say it was super easy?!

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