ITALIAN DRESSING PASTA SALAD (Mike Jennings)w
- FOR THE SALAD DRESSING:
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic flavored (optional)
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
- 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely minced (or 1/8 tsp. dried)
- 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 8 oz. (1/2 lb) pasta, cooked
- 3 cups assorted vegetables
- 1/2 cup chopped red or sweet Vidalia onions
- 1/4 cup green onions, minced (optional)
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped (or use roasted red peppers)
- vegetables of your choice
If using a food processor or blender to mix the salad dressing (recommended), there is no need to mince the garlic and herbs.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Using colorful pasta and vegetables makes for an especially attractive salad. We like to use multicolored rotini or fusilli or rotini and ziti/penne, but any pasta may be used for variety.
Mince garlic and herbs, grate the cheese, grind the black pepper and whisk ingredients for dressing together (or process in a blender/food processor until smooth).
Remove the pasta from the cooking water using a large mesh or straining spoon. Do not discard the water.
In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the cooked and drained pasta while still hot.
Fresh or frozen, raw or cooked vegetables (or any combination) may be added. Broccoli, carrots, corn, baby corn, peas, green beans, onions, cherry tomato halves and marinated artichoke quarters are all good candidates for inclusion in a pasta salad.
Blanch the prepared vegetables in the pasta water. This can be done by putting the vegetables in a steamer or a large mesh spoon or sieve and holding it under the steaming hot (not boiling) pasta water for 1 or 2 minutes, depending upon the size of the vegetables. Alternatively, if you're using mixed frozen vegetables, they may be microwaved. Do not overcook the vegetables - they should be brightly colored and still crisp. Dehydrated vegetable mixtures also contribute extra color when rehydrated in the pasta water.
Add the vegetables to the pasta salad and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. More salt, pepper, herbs and cheese may be added, or a little lemon zest or juice, or even a pinch of granulated garlic.
For variations, 1 cup bite-sized mozzarella, thinly sliced salami, prosciutto, ham, capicola or pepperoni strips can be added to the salad.