Feel free to omit any ingredient and add others (except maybe the pasta…although you could do this with any whole, cooked grain too).
- 12 oz. uncooked pasta (gluten-free brown rice pasta works great)
- 1/2 each: red, yellow and orange peppers
- 1/2 large red onion
- 1/4 lb. spinach (4–5 big handfuls)
- 1 broccoli crown
- 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, cubed
- pepper to taste and
- feta cheese
- crumbled, cooked bacon
- sliced green olives
- chopped pepperoni
- green onions
For the dressing:
- ~3/4 c. extra virgin
- ~10 strips dehydrated roasted red pepper
- 5 dehydrated tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes from a jar
- 1/2–1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. pizza or Italian seasoning
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
To prepare the dressing:
- At least an hour, or better yet, a full day before making the pasta, mix up all the dressing ingredients and allow the flavors from the dehydrated veggies to infuse into the oil. I dehydrated summer vegetables at home, and they last for over a year when fully dried. If you don’t have anything like that available, the dressing will still be tasty (or try a jar of sun-dried tomatoes from the store).
- Cook pasta in salted water about 1-2 minutes less than the package directions. Al dente is better for a cold salad, especially with gluten-free pasta (this is the brand pictured). Taste a piece to make sure it’s soft enough.
- Rinse with hot water and pour the dressing on (minus the dehydrated peppers and tomato, although you could chop and add those if you wanted to). The warm pasta will soak up the oil and combat the crumbliness, staying pliable for days in the refrigerator. This is especially important for gluten-free pasta (You may even want double the dressing because the pasta will soak up so much.).
- When ready to mix together, at least an hour before serving to give time for the flavors to meld, add each item to the pasta as you chop it:
- Chop peppers into 1″ chunks and red onion into 1/2 cm. dices or thin strips if you prefer.
- Coarsely chop spinach and broccoli.
- Cut cheese into 1/2″ cubes.
- Mix thoroughly, adding additional dressing (or just oil) if necessary and chill until serving time.
- You still might need to add a bit more dressing (or just oil) when you serve it if the pasta salad sits for a while, just to keep it moist.
* Pizza seasoning differs from Italian seasoning just a little. The one I have includes onion powder, bell peppers, fennel, oregano, garlic, basil, chilies, parsley, thyme, marjoram, and celery flakes. A good substitute might be Italian seasoning with a bit of ground fennel and garlic powder. I think that would cover the main flavors.
* I even added a bit more seasoning blend right on the pasta.
* Don’t skip the salt! Commercially produced dressings typically have quite a bit of salt, and it makes a big difference.
* Remember that you can use just about any veggie you have on hand, switch out the cheese, and even try different seasonings in the dressing to make totally new variations for every party you attend.
* To make it a “pizza pasta salad,” add pepperoni, and consider bacon and green olives. Yum!
* Feta is a nice touch on top of each serving, and then you can call it Greek pasta salad, maybe with chickpeas too.