Sunday, May 27, 2012

Antipasto pasta salad

Ok, antipasto pasta salad has always been a little pet peeve for me. You don't eat pasta salad before the pasta course, folks. But it also sucks me in every time I see it. Because it's really just that delicious.

So here's a sneak peek of my Memorial Day offering.

Antipasto Pasta Salad:

The secret to a good salad, I'm sorry to say, is salt. I learned this trick the first time I went to Italy and we ate in an off-the-beaten path restaurant where a real Italian Mama prepared her table's salad by salting it. Hello, love! Later in life, I was fortunate enough to take some cooking lessons in the south of France where I met my other salad secret, a whisk and some elbow grease. A good salad dressing has to be emulsified and you need both of these secret weapons to do it.

The Dressing:

Start with 2Tbsps of red wine vinegar (I use Chianti vinegar) in your salad bowl. Add a dash of salt (I'm trying to cut back so I go with about a teaspoon, you just need a little bit to make the oil stay blended) and some fresh ground pepper. Add 2 minced black olives and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Get that whisk in one hand and your bottle of olive oil in the other. Start whisking while drizzling in about 3Tbsps of olive oil. Beat the hell out of it. (This is what I learned in cooking school --that and use as many dishes as possible). Let it sit while you prep the rest of the salad. If you've beaten the hell out of it, it should stay nicely blended. If not, add more elbow grease.

The salad:

Boil water and make a box of fusili pasta according to the box's directions. Drain and let sit to cool.

Prep your fixings: one can of artichoke hearts (quartered), one red pepper (sliced in thin strips), red onion (thinly sliced, I use about a quarter of an onion), one can of black olives, pepperoni (sliced into thin strips), fresh mozzarella (cubed), and arugula. You could also use some banana peppers if you like.

Once your pasta has cooled, add it to your salad bowl of dressing and mix. If you are prepping this salad in advance (and you can! Letting that pasta seep in the dressing is going to make it more awesome) wait to add your toppings until right before you serve it.

There you go. Yummy and meal worthy.

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