Antipasto Pasta…try saying that three times fast!
I’m a big fan of the antipasto platter – sliced cured meats, cheese, olives, artichoke hearts, etc. served before an Italian meal so I thought, why not put all those things into a huge bowl of pasta salad.
I like to load mine up with lots of extra veggies – feel free to customize this to include your favorites.
Since football and tailgating season is in full swing, Antipasto Pasta Salad is a great change of pace from the regular fare of hamburgers, brats, and chips. Because this has an oil & vinegar dressing rather than mayo, it will pack, travel, and keep well throughout the big game.
Here’s what you need:
Pasta, Salami, Pepperoni, Fontina Cheese, Provolone Cheese, Zucchini, Bell Pepper, Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Olives, Artichoke Hearts (optional), Garbanzo Beans, Fresh Basil, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Oregano, and Pepper.
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and drop in your pasta. I have 12 oz. of rotini or spiral shaped pasta but any fun shape like farfalle (bow ties), shells, penne, or even big macaroni will work.
Gluten Free people, have you tried the new Barilla GF Pasta? It’s awesome! (No, they are not paying me to say that. As my grandmother would say, “They don’t know me from Adam.”)
Obviously if you’re not gluten free, use your favorite brand of pasta.
While the pasta cooks (7-8 minutes or per package instructions), make the dressing.
In a very large mixing bowl, combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup vinegar (I’m using red wine vinegar & a little balsamic vinegar), 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon oregano, and 1-2 cloves of crushed or pressed garlic.
Whisk the dressing together until it is well combined.
Dice up 1 medium zucchini and 1 bell pepper (I have orange for flavor and color).
Cut 1 pint of cherry tomatoes in half and add all of the vegetables to the bowl of dressing.
Drain and rinse 1 (15 oz.) can of garbanzo beans and add them to the bowl. Toss the vegetables in the dressing to combine.
The garbanzos add some extra protein to the salad as well as flavor and texture.
As is, this is actually one of my favorite vegetable salads to make…but there’s more to come!
Drain and rinse your pasta under cool water.
Normally I would never rinse pasta as it washes away the starch that holds the sauce to the noodles. However, for pasta salad, I rinse so the noodles don’t stick together. Also, unless you’re great at planning ahead, it cools the noodles down so they don’t wilt the veggies.
Add the pasta to the veggies and toss to coat. Once again, you could stop here and add some cheese and basil and have a wonderful vegetarian pasta salad.
But wait…there’s more!
I asked the deli counter person for 2 thick slices of salami & pepperoni (about 1/4 pound of each). It helps if you tell them that you’re going to cut it into cubes.
I also have 2 thick slices of provolone (I love the picante or sharp provolone) and 2 slices of fontina.
Cut the meat and cheese into cubes and add them to the bowl.
Top things off with 1/2 cup of sliced olives (green or black…or none if olives creep you out) and lots of chopped fresh basil.
Season with freshly cracked black pepper and stir gently to combine.
Give the pasta salad a quick taste to see if you need to adjust any seasonings. For me the meats and cheeses are all salty enough that I don’t add extra salt.
I like my salads fairly light on the dressing so if you want more, feel free to add more oil & vinegar.
And if you were paying attention up at the top of the post, you’ll notice that I decided to omit the artichoke hearts at the last minute. After tasting this (and also realizing that my big bowl was almost totally full), I decided that the olives added enough briny flavor so I skipped the artichokes this time.
If you can make this a couple of hours ahead and let it marinate in the refrigerator the flavors will only get better and better.
This is hearty enough for a full meal or great as a side dish. I was very happy to have leftovers to take in my lunch.
Here’s the recipe: