Florentine Pasta Salad with Red Grapes and Cashews

Florentine Pasta Salad | WorldofPastabilities.com


Today’s post is by my first guest blogger! 

Please welcome Mary Clarke, aka “Cookie”, my mother and the most extraordinarily talented cook I know.  She is a former gourmet cooking teacher, has built a successful catering business here in Nashville, and is known for her creative, absolutely delicious flavors, and beautifully garnished dishes.  One can usually find her in her kitchen “headquarters” testing some new creations or teaching one of her grandchildren how to make cookies.  Take it away Cookie!

It’s big!  It’s TAILGATE time!  Whether your big games take you to a big tent with lawn chairs or to a big screen with easy chairs, it’s all big fun to gather with friends!

Florentine Pasta Salad | WorldofPastabilities.com

“What can I bring?”  It feels good to ask when you’ve been invited and welcome to hear when you’re hosting.  I want to score by bringing a big dish (yes, lots of it, but big to me also means cooking a dish new and different).  Honesty time out:  I don’t know that much about football, but I love a party and love to cook – cooking is just my way of giving pleasure!

Florentine Pasta Salad | WorldofPastabilities.com

And this Florentine Pasta Salad recipe delivers – colorful, creamy, and crunchy – with bursts of grape sweetness that makes your taste buds smile.  It has been a favorite and popular choice as a side dish in my catering business for years.  Adding grilled shrimp or chicken transforms it into a perfect lunch too.

Tailgate & Celebrate Pasta (footballs and helmets) seemed like the most appropriate choice for this dish, but of course any short pasta can be substituted.  Carey swears you need to also try her Tailgate Pasta Salad with Beans and Corn.  I did, and I would recommend it as another delicious game day alternative.

Florentine Pasta Salad | WorldofPastabilities.com

Along with this recipe, I’d like to offer you 3 cooking “tips”:

  1. Save some minutes and grab chopped celery and green onions from your grocery salad bar. Some stores have already packaged some pre-chopped veggies in clear containers in the produce section.  Makes prep time a breeze!
  2. To make pasta ahead, cook, drain, and rinse well under cold running water.  Drain again and coat pasta lightly with olive or vegetable oil, which prevents sticking.  Store covered in fridge for up to 5 days.
  3. To freeze pasta, do as above, then transfer to freezer bag or bags or freezer container.  Label and date with quantities and it will keep for several weeks, or months.  Thaw in fridge overnight or thaw in microwave, then reheat in microwave if needed.

Florentine Pasta Salad | WorldofPastabilities.com

So here’s to big games, big cheers, big plates, and big appetites – Happy Tailgating!

And a big thanks, Carey, for asking me to blog for the first time!  xo Cookie


Florentine Pasta Salad with Red Grapes and Cashews

A wonderful recipe from my guest blogger, my Mom “Cookie”! Whether a tailgating event, or luncheon salad…your guests will rave about the delicious flavors!


  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) red grapes, sliced in half (they must be sweet)
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups (about 3 oz.) fresh spinach leaves, stacked and sliced thinly into julienne strips (like you julienne fresh basil), measured after slicing
  • 8 oz. Tailgate Pasta (about 1/2 bag, or sub any other short shape), cooked by package directions, to yield 3 to 4 cups cooked.
  • 1 or 2 cups salted cashews, hold and stir in just before serving for maximum crunch
  • Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (light or canola oil mayo, just fine)
  • 1/41/2 t. curry powder


  1. Mix first six ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Combine mayo and curry powder well, add to bowl and stir til all ingredients are well coated. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Just before serving, mix in cashews, taste, and add salt if needed.
  4. Transfer to serving dish. Dust top lightly with paprika – my kitchen “rouge” for almost any dish.


This recipe serves 8-10 and can be double or tripled easily!


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  1. sean fiorenza on February 3, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    this looks mighty tasty love it

  2. rob fiorenza on February 3, 2016 at 11:10 am

    mmm mmm good gotta make that

  3. nancy fiorenza on February 3, 2016 at 7:18 am

    wow this really looks tasty must try this

  4. nicole ford on February 3, 2016 at 7:01 am

    yummy those pasta shapes are sooo cute and it looks so good

  5. Kim Davis on September 16, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Looks and sounds delicious. The whimsical pasta makes it a great dish.

  6. Casey B on September 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Wow, it sounds delicious! Cashews are wonderful & so are grapes. I never thought about rhem together!

  7. Laura Collins on September 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I like those pasta shapes

    • carey on September 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks! Football season is here so why not make it fun?!

  8. Candace Galan-Calderon on September 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I love this recipe!

  9. Jamie Green on September 16, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    cashews? grapes? pasta? sold!!!

    • carey on September 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      It really is a great combination! Try it!

  10. sean fiorenza on September 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    loving this

  11. nicole ford on September 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    this looks so good yum

  12. rhonda hagy miller on September 16, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Never had pasta and grapes together in a salad! Sounds so good!! Will def be trying this one!! Thanks!!

    • carey on September 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      I would love to know what you think! It is delish!

  13. rob fiorenza on September 16, 2015 at 11:35 am

    this looks yummy

  14. Lizze lukowski on September 16, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

  15. nancy fiorenza on September 16, 2015 at 10:31 am

    amazing I gotta try this

  16. Charles-Linda Bradshaw on September 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Would really love to make this soon! My kids would devour this!

  17. Kathy B. on September 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    How exciting to have a guest blogger! And WELL DONE for your mother’s first blog…can we hope to see more from her in the future??? I loved the cooking tips she provided, since I’m always looking for ways to save time and use shortcuts ;). Very helpful, and the recipe looks delish!!

    • carey on September 16, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks Kathy! I sure hope so! We love cooking together and trying new recipes…so hopefully she’ll stick around! 🙂

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