It’s nearing the end of our summer break and school will start next Monday. Where did the time go? My baby girl starts her junior year in high school. She’s had quite the exciting summer traveling to tournaments with her basketball team and now starts high school volleyball. Two-a-day practices started this week which is a exciting for the team, but a clear message that summer is just about over.
Let’s enjoy one more “Hooray” for summer with this fresh vegetable Italian inspired pasta salad. You might even need a potluck dish to share at your child’s back-to-school party or how about Labor Day picnics? I’m getting very psyched for football tailgating parties and this would be perfect. I recently shared this dish with a couple of neighbors who were celebrating family gatherings; it received great reviews!
I’m still enjoying the bounties of my herb garden so chose to use fresh in this salad, but when I make this in fall or winter months without access to fresh herbs, I’ll opt for dried with tasty results. I like to use whole grain pastas for added fiber and nutrients when possible. For this picture I used rotini, penne and farfalle for variety. Fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onion, and red bell peppers combine with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and artichoke hearts for a heart healthy tribute to summer’s best ingredients. For the dressing I use my mother’s all-time favorite salad dressing: Good Seasons Italian dressing mix made with olive oil and red wine vinegar. It’s convenient and flavorful; perfect for this salad. I like to let this sit overnight if possible to let flavors blend. The next day I toss with a little more dressing to “freshen” it up a bit.
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- Italian-Style Pasta Salad
- 1 pound whole grain pasta (I use rotini, penne and/or farfalle)
- 1 pint red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 1 (8.5-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained (optional)
- 1 cup cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried basil leaves
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 (0.7-ounce) package Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing mix
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add tomatoes, peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, olives (optional), cheeses and herbs.
- For the Italian Dressing: Combine vinegar, water and dressing mix in a small jar with lid. Cover and shake vigorously. Add olive oil; cover and shake again.
- Pour half of dressing over pasta salad and gently toss to combine. If possible, refrigerate pasta salad overnight and redress salad with more salad dressing as needed.
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