A couple of times a month, I leave work, walk across the parking lot, go to the deli department of the local supermarket, buy a small container of some type of pasta salad costing around $6/lb., plus or minus, walk out of the store, back across the parking lot, take the elevator back to the office, where I eat the pasta salad at my desk. As well as having a very boring life, I like pasta salad.
Pot luck suggests there are few set rules when making this salad. So cook, err refrigerate in this case, with abandon, or take a walk across that parking lot. Use what you have and what you want. Chances are it will turn out just fine. See notes below for the real story.
about 1/3 cup olive oil
about 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
about 4 to 5 minced cloves of garlic
about 1/4 small onion, minced
about 1 tablespoon dried basil
about 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
about 2 teaspoons dried parsley
a touch of milled pepper
a touch of salt
Combine all the ingredients above and mix well. A small jar with a tight-fitting lid works well. Taste and adjust the vinegar with a squirt or two if you desire.
The pasta salad
about 6 ounces of uncooked pasta
about 1/4 medium red onion, sliced in thin semi circles
about 1/2 can marinated artichoke hearts
about 1/3 can hearts of palm
some chopped carrots
a few pieces of broccoli, chopped
a few pieces of cauliflower, chopped
about 2 to 3 ounces good salami (for the vegetarian option, leave the salami out), small chop
about 2 to 3 ounces good cheese, small chop
about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
a sprinkle or two of shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook the pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain and cool the pasta. Combine and mix all the pasta salad ingredients above in a large bowl. Add the dressing. Mix well again. Cover and refrigerate. May be eaten immediately. This is one of those things that gets better after refrigerating for a while or the next day. I’ll usually nuke a plate of cold pasta salad for about 15 seconds to take the chill off, but not warm it up. It seems to bring out a little more flavor.
I had a recipe I started to follow, and then ….
The pasta was a left over partial box of bow tie pasta supplemented with a small handful of rotini pasta. The bow tie was a little too big for this type of salad, but it still came out just fine. The rotini was a much better size. The artichoke hearts and palm hearts were left over from the Rich & Charlie salad. It was use them or lose them. Into the pasta salad they were bound. The artichoke hearts weren’t marinated. They’re pretty easy to marinate yourself. The artichokes went into a small bowl followed by a few tablespoons of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar, a heavy sprinkle of dried basil and dried parsley, a lighter sprinkle of dried oregano, and a quick mix now and then while the rest is prepared. Don’t throw out the marinade just yet. You can add it later to the pasta salad if it turns out a little too dry. The broccoli and cauliflower were stolen from a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Now I’ll have to do a little stir frying to use the rest of the bag. While you could do without the cheeses, it wouldn’t be right. However the type of cheese is up to you. Since this is Italian in character, I used some Trader Joe’s Asiago cheese I had in the refrigerator. The salami, while optional in general and especially for vegetarians, is Trader Joe’s Chianti Artisan salami. It’s extremely good. The onions were left over pieces from previous meals that I had wrapped up in the refrigerator. If you don’t have the herbs, olive oil and some type of vinegar hanging around your house, why are you reading this?