You know those people who have ‘A Dish’? The ones who are known for their potato salad, or strawberry pie. The ones who never have to ask what they can bring to the party, because their contribution is pretty much set in stone? I always wanted to be one of those people. I’d imagine a day when I would no longer spend days trying to decide what to bring along to a summer gathering. I’ve made a lot of great summer dishes, like this Strawberry Lemon Cake with Basil Buttercream Frosting, but I had a hard time moving on from the dessert table. Until this Italian Pasta Salad.
Seven simple ingredients and 20 minutes is all you need to create a great side dish, or even a colorful lunch. This Italian Pasta Salad is brimming with penne pasta, fresh cherry tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers, bold cheese and flavorful olives.
It was my sister in law who said it first – she was going over her menu for an upcoming family BBQ when she uttered those words I’d been waiting to hear – “And of course we’ll have your pasta salad”. Finally! This Italian Pasta Salad took the guesswork out of party prep! Three years later this is still my most requested dish. What you need (and see below for tasty substitution ideas):
- 1 lb Penne pasta
- 6 oz block of provolone cheese, cubed
- 4 oz of pepperoni, cubed or sliced (I use a stick so I can cut it into cubes, but in a pinch you can use pre-sliced pepperoni too)
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can of medium olives, halved
- Wishbone House Italian Dressing
- Optional: Parmesan cheese to garnish before serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta according to the package directions.
- While the pasta is boiling cut the cheese and pepperoni into bite size chunks, halve the tomatoes and olives and chop the bell pepper.
- Once the pasta is done, drain and rinse it under cold water to stop it from cooking any longer. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and add enough Italian dressing to coat (this prevents the pasta from sticking to each other).
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, add more dressing, to taste, and stir well! Cover and refrigerate until serving.
- Top with Parmesan cheese before serving if desired.
- Salami instead of pepperoni
- Freshly Shredded Parmesan cheese or mozzarella chunks instead of provolone
- Toss in a handful of dried cranberries instead of pepperoni for a meat free dish
I just finished up a double batch to bring to my sister in law’s Memorial Day barbecue, and honestly I can’t wait to dig into some pasta salad and burgers! What’s your favorite summer barbecue food?