Cold pasta salad is one of my favorite summer recipes. It’s great at a BBQ, or you can even make it in advance to take to a camp-out or picnic. Full of fresh vegetables, this is a healthy and light dish that is sure to get plenty of compliments. Every time I cook this, people rave about how they love it. It’s a big favorite!
Pasta salad is a pretty simple recipe to make. However, rather than just writing this like a typical recipe, I’m going to provide plenty of pictures, so you can see how things are supposed to look. (Click on the images for more detailed versions.) Feel free to experiment with the ingredients. It’s far more important to include high quality fresh ingredients than to follow the recipe exactly. So if something is out of season or looks old, substitute it or leave it out.
Diva’s Famous Pasta Salad
- 1 pound dry tri-color fusilli
- 1 red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 bunch fresh basil
- 4 stalks asparagus
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 10 ripe cherry tomatoes
- 10 crimini mushroms
- 1 portabello mushroom
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 sm jar pitted kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup dry salami – chopped up
- kosher salt
- pepper grounds
Step 1: Sautée the Mushrooms & Asparagus
In a large or medium skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. You’ll know it’s hot enough if you add a few drops of water and they sizzle. Add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, sliced crimini mushrooms, the portobello mushroom chopped into 1/2″-1″ squares, and the asparagus chopped up into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Add a little freshly ground pepper and some kosher salt.
Cover it and sautée over medium heat until the vegetables soften up, but take care not to over-cook the mushrooms. It should look like the photo to the right when it’s done.
Now remove it immediately from the heat. This needs to cool completely so dump everything in a large bowl – the more surface area the better. Nest that bowl into a larger filled with ice and water. Leave it alone and proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Boil the Pasta
Get a large stock pot and fill it up about 2/3 the way full of water. Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil.
When the water is boiling rapidly, dump in the pasta. Turn it down to medium-high and stir often. Cook the pasta until it’s al denté, about ten minutes, and then drain.
Step 3: Chop the Veggies
While the pasta is boiling, you can begin chopping the rest of the veggies. Chop them into 1/2″ pieces. The cherry tomatoes should be quartered. The olives should be sliced.
Slice the basil into small strips and chop the parsley finely. Dump it all into a nice big bowl.
Step 4: Put it All Together
Add in the chopped salami, cheese, a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, and the cooled vegetable mix. Pour in a cup of extra virgin olive oil and a cup of balsamic vinegar. Now stir it all up.
Step 5: EAT!
This dish is best the next day so you want to let it marinade at least a few hours and wait a day if you can help it. Then serve it cold or at room temperature.