My Mom's Pasta Salad
My mom has been making this pasta salad recipe since I was a kid. While it might not have been her creative genius alone that made this magic happen, she put her own spin on it and truly made it hers- it's like a signature dish and she hits it out of the ballpark each and every time! I've taken over the reigns and have become the next generation to regularly make this recipe, I've brought it to bridal showers, baby showers, work potlucks- shoot if you invite me for dinner I'll probably bring it to your house- each time to glowing reviews! It's so simple and gets better each day with leftovers- it's the kind of recipe that seriously benefits from marinating in the fridge for an hour or two or twelve.
Are you ready for how easy this is?
What you need:
1 package of pasta- preferably a rotini, farfalle, or radiatori- something with ridges to catch the dressing and bits of feta- yum!! I pretty much grab either the tricolor rotini or tricolor radiatori whichever is available.
2/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I have also used champagne vinegar with good results)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1 1/4 teaspoon salt (this can be modified- I use less salt)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 each of: Red, yellow and green bell pepper (I also use orange!) thinly sliced
1 package of small tomatoes such as cherry or grape, cut in half
1 15 ounce can of black olives, either left whole or cut in half
1 tub of 6-8 ounces of crumbled feta cheese. I use plain but have used the herb flavored feta in the past and it's also quite good.
What you do:
Cook pasta according to directions. Make sure to cook it al dente because it needs to stand up to being deliciously doused in dressing! I use whatever the minimum time is that the package states.
While cooking pasta, assemble the ingredients for the dressing. In a blender or food processor add: oil, vinegar, basil, green onions, parmesan and salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
Chop bell peppers and tomatoes. At this point I'm pretty much popping olives in my mouth and oh, the occasional piece of feta with that- yum! The perks of being the chef!!
When pasta is done cooking, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. This cools the pasta- let the water drain out of pasta and add it to a large bowl. Add bell peppers, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. Pour dressing over the lot and toss!
You can eat immediately but I like it best after it's chilled in the refrigerator for about an hour. It's even better the next day!
This is pretty a great side dish to any meal and in our house it becomes the main squeeze, standing alone! This recipe just makes me think of summer and of course my mom!
*side note: this recipe can be made either vegan or gluten free (or both!) by of course taking out the cheese from the dressing and the nixing the feta and substituting gluten free pasta. I've tried this and I find it's best with Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta.