Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hillary's Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is Morgan's absolute favorite "thing" in my regular repertoire. We usually have it at home as a main course, but it's also our side dish go-to for pot lucks and barbecues.

I love it, too, but it's so easy that I feel a little disappointed when he says it's his favorite. I put so much more effort into other dishes, but I guess the upside is that he's easy to please. I've tweaked this over the years to get it just right and it gets rave reviews. (Didn't have an avocado the day the photo was taken, so that's missing in this shot).

This is a staple in our house and the leftovers are perfect for lunches.

Hillary's Pasta Salad

Salad Ingredients:
1 16 oz. box tri-colored rotini pasta
8 oz. light Italian dry salami, diced
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, cubed to 1/4" (small cubes)
1/2 red onion, finely diced (optional)
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
1 12 oz. package whole grape tomatoes (Do NOT cut these up, or they will get slimy and gross and your leftovers will be contaminated with mushy tomatoes.)
3 Tbsp. chives, minced
1 jar (6 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped

Dressing:
12 oz. balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (I like Good Seasons Italian, made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar)

Add the following to the bottle of salad dressing and mix well (the Good Seasons cruet makes this step especially easy, since you can just add and shake):

2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. white pepper
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano

Topping:
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 avocado, diced

Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

  • Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse twice in cold water.

  • While pasta is cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients in separate bowl until well-blended, or shake up your Good Seasons cruet. Set aside.

  • In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, salami, pepper jack cheese, red onion, cucumber, red bell pepper, olives, whole tomatoes, chives, artichoke hearts and dressing.

  • Toss well to evenly distribute the dressing.

  • Top with diced avocado and Parmesan cheese.

  • Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
  • 3 comments:

    Jenny said...

    yum! i love this- thanks for posting the recipe!

    Missy said...

    Rainbow rotini makes everything taste better. I'm with Morgan, this kind of easy stuff is my favorite too--looks delicious!

    Emily said...

    One of my all time favorites!