Posted by: timscooking | May 4, 2010

Easy All Day Pasta Salad

When the invitations and evites for graduations, first communions, and other outdoor family gatherings begin arriving, it’s a sure sign that spring is finally here. And with the invitations comes the request for appetizers, salads, or desserts that you might contribute to the menu. I usually go for some type of salad because they can make quite a statement on the buffet table with a minimum of time and effort.

This pasta salad is ideal for outdoor events because it can sit out all day with little effect on taste or food safety. The list of ingredients is only limited by your creativity and preferences, I try to stay away from  meats to keep the cost down and nuts and shellfish because of food allergies, especially if you don’t know everyone on the guest list. I used a combination of small pasta shapes but you could stick to one kind. I like shapes with texture such as rotini, radiatorri, and farfalle because they add some visual interest and also because they hold on to the seasonings and dressing better than elbow macaroni and are easier to eat with a fork while balancing a buffet plate on your lap.

This recipe can serve 8 -10 and can be easily doubled for a larger gathering.   

Easy All Day Pasta Salad

Ingredients

12 oz. small pasta

2 lemons

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped. Reserve marinade.

6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped. Reserve 2 tbsp. oil.

2 large plum tomatoes, 1/2 dice

2 tbsp. large capers in water, drained

1 roasted red pepper in oil, small dice

1 bunch scallions, green and white parts chopped

1/2 lb. kalamata olives, pitted

1/2 lb. feta cheese, 1/2 dice

12 basil leaves, stacked, rolled into cigar shape and sliced into thin ribbons

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.

Make the dressing in a large bowl. Zest  and juice the 2 lemons. Add all of the reserved marinade from the artichokes and the reserved oil from the tomatoes and pepper. When the pasta is done, drain and add immediately to the bowl with the dressing. Let cool.

Add all of the prepared ingredients to the pasta except for the feta, drizzle with the olive oil.. Season with 1 tbsp. salt and 1 1/2 tbs. pepper and toss to combine. Add the feta and gently fold into the salad so as not to break up the diced cheese. This can be made the day before and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature, and check for seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary.

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