I’m always in search of great salads that I can bring to teacher luncheons, pot-lucks or for a BBQ. This one is delizioso (my Italian roots coming out), the colors are so bright and vibrant and the taste, oh the taste of a hearty pasta salad delicately dressed with a smooth and nutty balsamic vinaigrette, it’s a meal all by itself! I doubled this recipe as it was for a teacher luncheon.
Start with a good quality pasta, you can do tricolor or plain, though tricolor sure is pretty. I happened to find this in our grocery store, it was perfect. You also can get great gourmet pastas from TJ Maxx. You can use any type of pasta, just make sure it has some ridges or twists in it to help hold the dressing. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, you don’t want it to fall apart in your salad.
While your pasta is cooking, grab a nice big mixing bowl and begin by chopping your bell peppers. I like multi-colored peppers, the store didn’t have orange that day or that would have been in there as well. I’m not a huge fan of green bell peppers (burp – excuse me!) but thought I’d add some for color. You could also add chopped English Cucumbers for the green! YUMMY!
Next, chop your genoa salami and pepperoni. Ideally it would be great to get the actual “sausage” and just dice, but I couldn’t find the ones I wanted, so used pre-sliced and chopped those up well. Also chop your cheeses, feel free to try different cheeses, you can use just one, here I used both Asiago and Smoked Mozzarella, Provolone would have been delicious too.
Next pour in your can of drained, sliced black olives; drain and rough chop your artichoke hearts, either marinated or in brine, either would be fine.
Next mix up your balsamic dressing. In a hurry? Buy a good quality bottle of balsamic dressing. But this dressing is super easy to make!
Once pasta is finished cooking, drain and rinse with cool water, set aside.
In a jar or container with lid; place olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and onion powder. Shake vigorously to emulsify. What in the world is emulsify or an emulsion? Webster defines it as: “A suspension of tiny droplets of one liquid in a second liquid. By making an emulsion, one can mix two liquids that ordinarily do not mix well, such as oil and water.” There you have it, our brains are always learning, soaking up knowledge just like the pasta soaks up the vinaigrette.
Add drained pasta to bowl with all the goodies in it and mix well. Pour dressing over, tossing occasionally, making sure the entire salad is coated in dressing. Add more or less dressing to taste, refrigerate any leftover dressing (if you have any) and use on any salad.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat, or may be served immediately. Mangia!
- 1 lb tricolor or plain fusilli (or other ridged or twisty pasta)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- ½ green bell pepper
- ¼ lb genoa salami, diced (good quality)
- ¼ lb pepperoni sausage, diced (good quality)
- 1 14 oz can brined or marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
- 6 oz can sliced black olives, drained
- ¼ lb asiago cheese, diced
- ¼ lb smoked mozzarella, diced (try different cheeses, smoke or regular provolone)
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, or a tablespoon dried
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a large pot, bring water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cool water.
- Dice peppers, salami, pepperoni and cheeses and toss in large mixing bowl.
- Add olives and artichokes.
- Add cooked pasta and toss to mix.
- Mix all dressing ingredients in a jar with a covered lid, shake vigorously to emulsify.
- Pour over pasta salad (to taste, might use entire jar, might not).
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Doubles or triples easily for a crowd, your dressing may not need to be doubled though.