|I’m betting a month’s worth of food stamps that this will be the best pasta salad you’ve ever shoveled into your mouth! It has a hybrid Greco/Roman flair, due to the feta cheese and Greek olives included, and it’s specifically designed to be the pasta salad of choice for people who don’t like pasta salad very well. It pairs with darn near everything, from grilled foods to sandwiches. I made this for our bestest friend Pam the last time she rolled into town, and she couldn’t keep her hands off it during her entire visit, it’s that good.As you look over the Bill of Materials (otherwise known as the ingredients list for you non-engineer types), you’ll realize that this isn’t the cheapest stuff to make. I mean, a 3-ounce hunk of prosciutto may mean not paying the electric bill this month – but oh, man, it’s so worth sitting in the dark!
The quantities shown here are what I use, so it’s just a starting point. If you like more cheese, less olives (or no olives), simply adjust that ingredient up or down to taste – the beauty of this stuff is you can’t mess it up! Just don’t leave out the pasta, because then you’d have to change the name.
If you can’t wait, you can eat it the day you make it – but for it to be the best, force yourself to wait until the next day. The flavors need time to smash together! If you keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator, it will keep 4-5 days. Don’t try to freeze it – it doesn’t work.
One final note – this makes enough to feed a small army – you may want to cut everything down by half.
|2-12 Oz Box||Tri-Color Rotini|
|2-8.5 Oz Jars||Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil|
|1-16 Oz Jar||Roasted Red Bell Peppers|
|1-16 Oz Jar||Golden Peperoncini|
|1 Large||Red Onion|
|2 Medium||Roma Tomatoes|
|1 Medium Bulb||Garlic|
|1-6 Oz Stick||Pepperoni|
|1-3 Oz Slice||Deli Prosciutto|
|1 lb||Deli Pitted/Cured Mixed Olives|
|1-6 Oz Tub||Crumbled Feta Cheese|
|1-3 Oz Wedge||Parmesan Cheese|
|1-3 Oz Wedge||Romano Cheese|
|1-8 Oz Block||Mozzarella Cheese|
|1 Pkg||Fresh Basil Leaves|
|1-16 Oz Bottle||Italian Dressing|
|A/R||Dried Italian Seasoning|
|A/R||Extra Virgin Olive Oil|
|Cook Rotini in a large pot of boiling water (adding a tablespoon of olive oil) according to package directions (8-9 minutes) – do not overcook! Drain thoroughly, and put in a large bowl. Sprinkle a little olive oil over the pasta and finger-toss to keep it from sticking. Place pasta bowl in the refrigerator to chill.While the pasta cools, start chopping the sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, peperoncini, and onion. Your goal should be a chopped size of about ¼”, but don’t chop too uniformly – make some chunks bigger, and some smaller; this provides interesting texture in the finished dish. As you finish chopping each ingredient, place each in a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Next, peel and mince the garlic, set aside. Drain the olives and slice into quarters; put back in refrigerator.
Slice the Roma tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and ribs with your finger or a spoon. Cube the pieces to approximately ¼” pieces.
Cube the pepperoni, prosciutto, and mozzarella, again going for ¼ X ¼” chunks.
Wash, dry, and remove stems from the basil leaves. Finely chop them.
Using a cheese grater, fine-shred the Parmesan and Romano cheeses – you can do them both in the same bowl if desired.
Time to mix – take the pasta out of the refrigerator and start adding one chopped ingredient at a time. Mix each ingredient gently but thoroughly. It may help to use an additional large bowl to transfer the mixture back and forth for better mixing.
Once all the ingredients are mixed with the pasta, add enough Italian dressing to moisten, but not so it’s swimming. About ½ the bottle should be about right to start. Since cooked pasta continues to absorb liquid, you may need to add a little more dressing the next day just before serving. Sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the top to suit your taste.