Paige’s World’s Best Pasta Salad

26 Feb

Pasta Salad

Period. The end.  Since I was a child I have always loved and adored a delicious pasta salad.  In my youth, I became an expert at making different variations of one of my favorite any-time snacks; so much so that when girlfriends would come over, they would always ask me to make said pasta.  So… after years of experimenting and perfecting, I am sharing it with you!!

This pasta salad recipe is a stand-alone recipe, but please note that I have used just about every kind of veggie in the fridge to create a version of this recipe.  So that means, if it includes something you don’t like, omit it (with a few caveats which I’ll make note of) and if you want to add something else, by all means do!

by DaisyChic via ETSY

by DaisyChic via ETSY

Ingredients:

Veggies: ALL RAW

The veggies I am mentioning are my favorites, and the ones I always include when making this recipe.  However, if you have extra squash or zucchini, you can always add them as well.

  • Cherry Tomatoes: halved if large, whole if small (use however many you want! I usually use a whole pint for 1 box of pasta, but I do love a tomato)! In the summer, mine includes heirloom tomaters as well! Yum!
  • Chopped Carrots (I have even used the ones already shredded in the bag in the produce section before, so easy!)
  • Broccoli ~1-2 heads: chopped into florets, if you are trying to make this lower carb, I’d go for 2 heads!
  • ½Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper: Chopped (MUST)
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: chopped, I do about a cup for one box of pasta (makes sure to get the ones that ARE NOT in the oil!)
  • 1-2 Cloves of Fresh RAW Garlic: minced (MUST!)
  • Raw Cauliflower: Chopped (optional)
  • Fresh Basil (optional)
  • Fresh Black Kalmata Olives (optional)

Extras:

  • Pinenuts: Just enough to sprinkle (optional)
  • 4 Sticks of Pepper jack or fresh Mozzarella Cheese: Chopped (I find the sticks are easy to chop into little cubes and add a buttery richness)
  • Salt and Pepper: to taste
  • A pinch of Sugar (MUST)
  • Olive Oil (MUST)
  • A good Balsamic Vinegar (I have used other kinds before, depending on the style of salad, but balsamic is the best!) (MUST)
  • 1 Box of Pasta: cooked Al Dente, according to packaged directions, rinsed and drained with cold water after cooking.  (I prefer Bowtie)
  • Meat (salami, summer sausage, or diced chicken) (Optional, I usually make this vegetarian)

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 10.21.16 PM

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, big enough to hold all veggies and extras, chop and mix prepared tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and cauliflower (if using).
  2. Season mixture from Step 1 with salt and pepper and a quick glug of balsamic, just enough to coat.
  3. After pasta is cooked and rinsed so there is no heat left, toss with a few glugs of olive oil to lightly coat.  Put pasta in with veggie mixture and toss to combine.
  4. After mixture is fairly evenly distributed.  Add salt and pepper to taste, toss in a pinch of sugar, cheese, olives, and a little extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  Mix. Do not be too heavy handed with the vinegar, since much of it settles to the bottom and just needs to be redistributed. (I store this in a Tupperware so I can give it a good shake as it settles)
  5. Add fresh basil if using at the end!

Tips:

As you can see there are no EXACT measurements for this recipe, which can be hard if you’re not a great cook.  Trust me though, just put as much veggies as you want in this recipe! The more the better! You really can’t mess it up unless you add too much garlic or sauce! Use your little tongue to decide how much is just right! LESS IS MORE!

Also, the 1-2 cloves of garlic goes A LONG WAY, but it’s the secret to this recipe, so don’t skip it!

The next day, you might need to add a touch more vinegar, so taste before you add!

This is so great for large crowds! And it can be put together in less than 20 minutes! I prep the veggies while the pasta is cooking.  I’ve used it for parties, work events, and baby showers and always have people asking for the recipe! Enjoy!

2 Responses to “Paige’s World’s Best Pasta Salad”

  1. Nancy August 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM #

    Made this for dinner tonight – thanks my dear! Soooo good!

    • pahay1 September 9, 2013 at 11:04 PM #

      Great Nancy! I did too just the other day, and it was FABULOUS!

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