With the sounds of children celebrating summer’s sweet release from school often lead me towards thoughts of lounging poolside with some delicious salads to munch on while tanning under the southern sun. While often on the move and always in a hurry to relax, pre-made salads are one of my go to dishes when heading towards the concrete and water. Make the day before or right before one heads out the door, these are an easy and forgiving meal that delights a crowd.
Pot luck dinner, picnic in the park or the tiptoeing sands of the beach, pasta salads are a must. With this iteration, I wanted to take all the flavors of a classic Italian antipasto; cheeses, meats, olives, etc., but mix it with pasta to offer more substance and stretch the cost. It’s Italian oxymoron in a bowl, indulgere!
A few after the fire critiques: You can use any cured meat that you’d like in place of the pepperoni, have fun. Same goes for the cheese, just ensure it is a soft cheese. When in season and at their peak, I often add ripe cherry tomatoes for bursts of acidity and color. For the heat seeking adult crowd, I’ll often add hot & sweet cherry peppers, one of my go to toppings for pizza. Lastly, if you are intending to serve table side for extended periods (i.e.- an outdoor lunch), remove the mayo from the recipe and you’ll be good to go.
Pasta 1 lbs., tricolor spiral or similar
Pepperoni ½ lbs., chopped into ½” cubes
Mozzarella Cheese 6-8 ounces, chopped into ½” cubes
Bell Pepper, large, chopped (½ Red and Orange preferred)
Purple Onion ½ diced
Kalamata Olives ¼ Cup, quartered
Basil 6-8 large leaves Chiffonade
Italian Dressing 1 Cup
Mayonnaise 1 Tbsp
Pepper and Salt
Large and Small Bowl (2)
Fine Mesh Sieve
Place the pasta in the large pot, cover with water and large pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, place sieve in small bowl and cover with cold water (and a few ice cubes if you have them). Place the onions in the sieve and let it sit for 5-10 minutes then drain. In a large bowl, place the pepperoni, cheese, bell pepper, onion and olives then mix to combine. In a small bowl, combine Italian dressing and mayo into thoroughly mixed. Once pasta is al dente or cooked till your liking (8-10 minutes), drain and place back into warmed large pot. Place ½ the dressing in with the pasta and mix to combine. Place in fridge for 15-20 minutes ensuring that you mix every 5 minutes. Remove the pasta from fridge and place in the large bowl, pour the remaining dressing, add basil, pepper and salt and mix until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust where needed. Can be served at room temperature for a short period or served cold. Indulge!