Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pasta Salad

Fresh veggies and perfectly cooked pasta tossed together with Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese. It's one of my favorite summer salads!

I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday weekend! My husband has been back to work for about 3 weeks now (he's a school teacher), so it was nice to have a few days off with him.

Now that Labor Day is gone, summer is officially winding down. This recipe is a summer barbeque favorite of mine. I use a variety of summer vegetables: grape tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, and carrots. Chop them into bite size pieces, toss with cooked rotini and the Italian dressing of your choice. Delicious and simple!

All of the vegetables need to be washed and dried well before assembling the salad. When chopping up the vegetables, leave pieces that are all similar in size as shown below.

Grape tomatoes: slice lengthwise in half, Cucumber: Halfway peeled, sliced and then cut into fourths, Red Onion: Diced, Carrots: Peeled and diced, Bell Pepper: Diced

While prepping the vegetables, boil the pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook the pasta! I can't emphasize the importance of this. Nothing ruins a good pasta dish like mushy, overcooked pasta. I always go by the "al dente" directions on the box, sometimes even a minute less. You want your pasta to have a little resistance when you bite into it. Once you toss warm pasta with sauce or dressing, it absorbs the liquid and softens the pasta a little more. When in doubt, under cook it just a tad.

Once everything is prepped and the pasta is done, toss the veggies, pasta, and dressing in a large mixing bowl. I start by adding about 1/4 of the bottle of dressing (sounds like a lot, but this is a big salad). The pasta will absorb the dressing as it chills, so adjust as needed. Chill the salad for at least two hours before serving. Once it is chilled, give the pasta a quick stir (dressing tends to fall to the bottom) adjust dressing as needed and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I think I ended up using about 1/3 of the bottle of dressing. Of course, a homemade Italian dressing will work just as well. Use whatever you like.

Serve this pasta salad with your favorite barbeque or summer foods. But watch out, it's easy to fill up on this salad! I could make a complete meal out of it.

Pasta Salad

  • 1-12 ounce package of rotini, cooked according to package directions (I prefer the pasta al dente)
  • 1 small package of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cucumber, halfway peeled, sliced and then cut into fourths
  • 1/2-3/4 red onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • Italian dressing of your choice (I prefer a robust Italian dressing)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


1. Boil pasta according to box directions, leaving al dente or slightly firm. Drain pasta well.

2. While pasta is cooking, wash and prep your vegetables. Allow vegetables to drain well, or dry with paper towels. Chop vegetables so that they are all similar in size.

3. Toss pasta, vegetables, and Italian dressing together.  I start with 1/4 of the bottle of dressing and adjust as needed. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until well chilled. Stir and taste before serving. Adjust dressing if needed. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

1 comment :

  1. Glad you guys enjoyed your holiday weekend. This looks delicious!! :)