In the past, I shared a recipe for a pasta salad using tortellini instead of macaroni. With the heat on in New Mexico it’s time to bring out another version of the ever-popular pasta salad. Last night we dined on a pasta salad made with a Fusilli pasta. The corkscrew shape of the pasta is a perfect receptacle for the Italian dressing used on the salad. The beauty of this salad is three-fold. First, you can use items from your pantry if you prefer (for example canned tuna, or an all-vegetable salad.) Second, depending on the amount of salad you make, it can provide multiple meals. And finally, it can be made well in advance so prep at dinner can be as simple as setting the table, slicing some warm bread and pouring a cool glass of beer. Here’s how I made the salad yesterday.
Fusilli Pasta Salad
- 1 lb fusilli pasta
- 1/4 lb Genoa Salami
- 1/4 lb pepperoni
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
- 1 cup artichoke hearts, quartered (plain – not seasoned)
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
- Italian dressing to coat/taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Begin by cooking the pasta to al dente. Drain and briefly rinse to remove some of the starch. When slightly cool coat the pasta with your preferred Italian dressing. You want the warm pasta to absorb some of the dressing and flavor the pasta. Place in the refrigerator. After cooking the pasta prepare the other ingredients. Dice the salami and pepperoni and set aside. Dice up the red onion. celery and red pepper and set aside. Cut up the artichokes and kalamata olives and set aside.
Combine the meat and veggie ingredients with the pasta. Add salt, pepper and more Italian dressing to taste. Mix well and refrigerate until it is time to serve.
Just before serving dice some fresh mozzarella and place in a bowl to pass at the table. Why not add the mozzarella with the other ingredients? Fresh mozzarella can get an unpleasant texture if it sits too long.
I made a fresh baguette to serve with dinner. I am a white wine girl but macaroni salad calls for red wine or beer. I opted for a craft ale last night that paired beautifully with the salad.
The heat may be on, but not in the kitchen at dinner time if you make pasta salad!
Note: If you purchase salami and pepperoni you need to buy it in a chunk from your favorite deli. Generally, a 1/4 lb. equals about a one-inch piece of the meat. I change the ingredients in this salad based on what is in season and fresh. When I make this salad later in the summer I can add significantly more fresh vegetables that are available at the farmers market.