Remember when I was going on about a really delicious pasta salad, partially from a box, partially homemade? I decided I wanted to come up with an original recipe for a similar salad, myself. So I did! I'm just calling it "Italian Pasta Salad" unless anyone can come up with a more interesting name. But the flavors are very Italian. I'm thrilled with how it turned out. If you try it, let me know what you think!!
8 oz Rotelle pasta (the medium-sized twisty ones)
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium tomato, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup cubed cheese (Swiss, provolone or mozzarella)
1/4 c sweet onion, finely minced
1/4 c EACH olive oil and red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic (powder or minced)
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c finely shredded Parmesan cheese (NOT the powdered stuff from the can!)
1/4 c finely shredded Asiago cheese (if you don't have this cheese you can just use 1/2 cup Parmesan)
1. Boil pasta according to package directions, in a 6-quart saucepan about half full of water. Meanwhile, start cutting up vegetables.
2. When pasta is cooked to "al dente" (not crunchy but not mushy; it should have a "bite"), drain and rinse with cold water until room temperature or cooler.
Finish cutting vegetables. :) The best way to seed the cucumber is to slice in half crosswise (you'll only use about half a medium cucumber), slice in half crosswise, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Leaving the seeds in will make the salad more watery.
3. Finely mince onion. You can use a knife, but I prefer my nifty Pampered Chef food chopper. It can be used for a variety of things, but I always use it for onions because then I don't have to touch them and risk touching my eyes with onion juice!
Plus it's a quick way to get the onions very finely minced, which is what you want for the dressing.
4. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced onion, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
It will smell delicious. Then mix in the shredded cheeses, Parmesan and Asiago.
5. Add the cooled pasta, tomato, cucumber, and diced cheese. Toss to coat evenly with the dressing. Chill before serving, or just use your stirring spoon to eat half of it right away. (That's what I usually do!)
It's beautiful, fresh, tasty, AND good for you! :)