I know what you are thinking. Pasta salad? Boring. No thanks. Not interested. Pasta salads tend to get that kind of reaction. They are either too oily or too dry. Or, just too boring. But don’t leave just yet! Pasta salads are also easy. And convenient. And a great dish to bring to summer cookouts and picnics. AND with all this other good stuff mixed in they really serve a lot of people. The only pasta salad I used to eat was a simple tri-colored rotini Italian dressing one. Last year I had pasta salad at a bridal shower with olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese. It really inspired me to re-think the pasta salad!
I decided to throw all the stuff Cliff and I love into this pasta salad. Artichokes, asparagus, olives, pepperoni , and lots of cheese! And instead of an oily Italian dressing I decided to make a sun dried tomato pesto dressing. I really liked the way the dressing stuck to the pasta and made it super flavorful. When I made this pasta salad my mission was twofold. 1) Make something to bring to a Memorial Day Party 2)Have enough leftovers for our lunches during the week. I decided to make 2 pounds of pasta. I am so glad I did because there was just enough left over for Cliff and I to have for lunches during the week. And the pasta was just as good at the end of the week as it was at the beginning! Cliff came home from work every day and told me how good his leftover pasta salad was for lunch. Cliff and I both like our pasta salad warm but you can eat it warm or cold! If you think pasta salad is boring, please give it another chance! This one is full of flavor!
1/3 pound of sun dried tomatoes, I buy them in the bulk section of the grocery store
1 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic
1 pound rotini pasta
½ pound of fresh mozzarella balls
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
1 can medium black olives
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
¼ lb of pepperoni, sliced thinly
½ lb of asparagus
¼ cup pine nuts
basil for garnish
reserve 1 cup of pasta water
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 10 minutes. While the asparagus is roasting start to boil your pasta water. Chop the sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic in the food processor until smooth. Set aside. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. I like mine al dente. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Pour half of the sun dried tomato pesto over the pasta. Add about ¼ cup of pasta water and coat the pasta in the pesto. Cut the tomatoes in half and add them to the pasta. Cut the mozzarella balls into bite sized pieces and add them in too. Chop the artichokes and add them in. Slice the pepperoni into strips and add them in. Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces, I usually cut each spear into 3 pieces, and add that in. Add the olives, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Mix everything together. Garnish with basil. If you plan to serve it immediately add the rest of the pesto. If you plan to serve it later, refrigerate and add the remaining pesto right before you serve it. Can be eaten hot or cold.
Source: A Live Love Pasta Original