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Italian Pasta Salad

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Italian Pasta Salad: A Mediterranean Symphony of Flavors

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Introduction: Step into the world of Mediterranean cuisine with Italian Pasta Salad—an orchestra of colors, textures, and flavors that dance together in perfect harmony. This refreshing salad combines al dente pasta, vibrant vegetables, savory cheeses, and a zesty dressing to create a dish that’s not only delicious but also a feast for the eyes. Whether you’re planning a summer picnic, a potluck gathering, or simply want a taste of Italy on your plate, this Italian Pasta Salad is a crowd-pleasing masterpiece. Let’s embark on a culinary journey and discover how to create this Mediterranean delight.

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • 8 ounces rotini or your favorite pasta shape
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried basil, oregano, and thyme)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Cook the Pasta:

  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it’s al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow it to cool completely.

Prepare the Dressing: 3. In a small bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, dried Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

Assemble the Salad: 4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled pasta, halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced red and green bell peppers, finely chopped red onion, sliced black olives, cubed mozzarella cheese, and chiffonade fresh basil leaves.

  1. Pour the prepared dressing over the salad ingredients.
  2. Gently toss everything together until the salad is well coated with the dressing.
  3. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Chill and Serve: 8. Cover the Italian Pasta Salad and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and the salad to chill.

  1. Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if needed.

Presentation and Enjoyment: 10. Transfer the salad to a serving dish or individual plates.

  1. Garnish with additional fresh basil leaves for a burst of color and flavor.
  2. Serve your Italian Pasta Salad as a delightful side dish or a light meal on its own.

Cook’s Notes:

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  • You can customize this salad with your favorite Mediterranean ingredients, such as marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or grilled chicken for added protein.
  • To make this salad gluten-free, use your preferred gluten-free pasta.
  • Fresh ingredients make a difference in this salad, so try to use ripe, flavorful vegetables and high-quality olive oil.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two. Just give it a good toss before serving.

  Italian Pasta Salad is a culinary journey through the flavors of the Mediterranean—a celebration of fresh ingredients, vibrant colors, and zesty dressing that come together in a symphony of taste and texture. Whether it’s a summer gathering, a weekday lunch, or a side dish for a barbecue, this salad brings a touch of Italy to your table. So, savor the Mediterranean charm, share it with friends and family, and let the flavors transport you to the heart of Italy with every forkful. Buon appetito!

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