I realize that most of you are probably thinking why would I post a summer recipe in September? But it is still very much Summer here in SoCal while the rest of the US is beginning to experience Fall. Considering it’s about to be 105* all weekend here, I’m definitely not thinking about yummy soups and pumpkin but rather every possible way to stay cooled off.
Several months ago I posted a blog for Jesse’s Favorite Pasta Salad, it was one of the first posts I made on this blog. This pasta salad has made an appearance at almost every major occasion with my family. It shows up at weddings, holidays, summer get-togethers and potlucks. Every time someone makes it, they tweak it just a little bit to mix it up. I think one of the best parts about this pasta salad is that it is so versatile, everything can be changed up according to your preference.
The pasta salad I posted about several months ago is full of yummy things like kalamata olives, red onions and sun-dried tomatoes, but I realized that those are all very strong flavors and can be a little overwhelming. I decided to make a more updated version with delicious ingredients that all have a little milder flavor and are used more commonly in kitchens.
What You Need
- Rotini Pasta, cooked
- Black Olives
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Roasted Bell Peppers, red or yellow
- Mozzarella Cheese [I accidentally pictured the wrong cheese]
- Italian – Tuscan house salad dressing
- Fresh Basil
Drain the roasted bell peppers and then dice them up into bite sized pieces. They sell a mix of red and yellow peppers at Trader Joe’s which I love because the flavor of the yellow peppers is sweeter and milder. Use just the yellow or mix the red and yellow for a little more color. Set these aside in a bowl.
Dice up a couple campari tomatoes, or whatever tomatoes you have on hand. Add these to the bowl with the peppers.
Drain the black olives and use about half a can.. then sneak a few into your mouth before anyone notices. Anyone else LOVE olives as much as I do??
These can either be left whole or can be diced up a little, I ended up cutting them all in half. Add the olives to the bowl with the tomatoes and peppers.
Grab a bunch of the salami and dice it up into bite sized pieces. Use more or less depending on what you prefer. If you want this dish to be vegetarian, the salami can be omitted and garbanzo beans can be used instead. Just drain the garbanzo beans and use about half the can.
Cook the rotini according to the package instructions, then pour it into a colander to drain. Run cool water over the pasta to stop the cooking and to get the pasta cooled down so the other ingredients can be added. Toss the cooled pasta into a large serving bowl or dish. I personally loved using this pasta because of the colors and rotini is a perfect pasta salad pasta, but any other small tube like pastas will work great too.
Now, add the bowl of tomatoes, peppers and olives to the pasta and then add in the salami.
Grate the mozzarella cheese over the bowl.
I realize that in the ingredients I showed a block of Monterey Jack cheese and that’s because I forgot I had some mozzarella left. I prefer mozzarella in this pasta dish, but any other mild white cheese will work too.
I started grating the cheese then decided I liked bigger chunks of cheese in the mix, so I ended up cutting up chunks.
Then chiffonade some basil to add a little freshness to the dish. I have a whole pot of basil growing in my kitchen and then completely forgot to add it at the end. It would have been the perfect final touch.
The last step is to add a little bit of the salad dressing and then mix it all up. Start with a little dressing and add a little more after tasting; there’s nothing worse than a salad with too much dressing on it. The Italian dressing is sort of the perfect dressing for this pasta salad, the flavors mesh really well with the ingredients. If you don’t have this kind of dressing on hand or don’t like this dressing the salad could go without a dressing and still taste fantastic. Experiment a little to see what you and your family like.
I love all the colors in this dish, it makes it look extra yummy and is very appealing to the eye. Try this variation or create your own! Let me know what you think in the comments below :)
- Roasted Bell Peppers
- Black Olives
- Salami or Garbanzo beans
- Rotini Pasta, cooked
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Italian Dressing
- Chop the peppers, tomatoes, olives and salami, set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions then set aside to cool
- Add peppers, tomatoes, olives and salami to pasta then chiffonade basil and add to the bowl
- Grate mozzarella cheese and add to pasta
- Toss salad with Italian dressing