I absolutely love pasta salad! Every time I take on the responsibility of cooking for my family or friends, or any kind of event, pasta salad is usually something that I turn to. I’ll make it for lunch, dinner, a side dish, a main dish, an appetizer, really, anything. And this is something that I am commonly asked the recipe for, but unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe! This really is a dish, that doesn’t need to be measured and honestly, anything goes. Lately it has become a favorite dish only because it’s so easy to make, and my boyfriend and I love it. So, I made it tonight, and wrote down how exactly I made this concoction, and also some of the combinations I’ve used other times. Originally I started making this recipe from a feta salad my aunt Cindy makes. Which combines, pasta, spinach, black olives, tomatoes, feta, and zesty Italian dressing. This recipe is an amazing side dish for any meal, I just decided to take it to the next level, and mix it up here and there.
First you’re going to start with pasta of course J I love the brand barilla, but it really doesn’t matter, also, the type of pasta you use doesn’t matter. Tonight I actually used about a third of a box of mini penne, and about a third of a box of farfalle (why my mom doesn’t use whole boxes, I’m not quite sure, but regardless). You’re going to want a 1 lb. box or whatever you decide; if you’re making a full portion. For just 2 people, use a half box, so ½ lb.
Now, this is the creative part. I love olives, so I really will use any and all olives we have in the house. For this recipe, I used a can of black olives, and maybe a half cup green olives. The green, about 4 slices per olive, the black, I just slice right down the middle, or at a diagonal. If you’re going for healthy definitely add as much spinach as possible; you can make it almost more like a salad salad, than a pasta salad. Fresh basil, and parsley are my favorite greens to use, in addition to the spinach. Then maybe dice up some tomatoes, adds great color, and if you salt and pepper them, great flavor as well.
For sustenance, add some protein! I started out with just anything I had in the fridge. So for a quick lunch one day, I sliced up some lunchmeat. For a real Italian flavored salad, add salami, prosciutto, etc.
Ok, so my basic recipe, and as shown in the picture.
1 lb. box of penne pasta (preferably barilla) cook as directed
1 can black olives sliced in half
1 cup green olives, sliced
1 bunch of basil, chopped fine
1 bag of spinach chopped
2/3 cup of Italian dressing (Newman’s Family Recipe Italian)
4 large chicken breasts, salt and pepper to taste, grill till cooked through
1 lb package of bacon cooked and crumbled
½ cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste
* a few pointers:
I usually cook the pasta in very salty water, it adds so much flavor to the salad if the pasta is salted.
After I drain and let pasta cool down, I drizzle a little of olive oil over it, to keep it from sticking.
Season chicken breast as desired; maybe add a little lemon.
Add dressing as desired, just like you would a regular salad.