Antipasto Pasta Salad with Herby Parmesan Vinaigrette.
Antipasto Pasta Salad with Herby Parmesan Vinaigrette. If you’re searching for a delicious pasta salad, look no further. This is the perfect quick fix salad that’s mayo free, almost no cook, comes together in minutes, and is great for warm weather picnics and BBQ’s. Grab your favorite pasta, whisk up an herby parmesan vinaigrette, toss with hot pasta, roasted peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, spicy salami, fresh mozzarella…and done. So full of flavor and color. This could not be easier to pull off. Trust me, this will be everyone’s new favorite pasta salad…a serious upgrade from the classic.
There’s salad and then there’s pasta salad. To be honest I’m not sure I get why it’s called pasta salad. But since it’s a salad, then it must be health food, and that for sure works in my book.
In all seriousness, ever since I was a kid I’ve always loved a good bowl of pasta salad. My dad would make the simplest pasta salad with raw broccoli, fresh basil, olive oil, and cubed cheddar cheese. His secret was in tossing the hot pasta with the broccoli, basil, and cheese. This causes the the cheese to slightly melt and softens the broccoli and basil. It really infuses the flavor. Oh, and the melty cheese is everything. I loved every single bite of my dad’s 5 ingredient pasta salad. I was also that weird kid that would help him chop the broccoli up. For every broccoli floret that went into the bowl, one went into my mouth…I’ve always loved my vegetables.
I guess the kitchen’s kind of been my place for most of my life. I didn’t even realize it until writing this, but I would help my dad cook when I was way little. He’d have me pick fresh basil and tomatoes from his garden, cube the cheddar, and chop veggies. Wow, I really did start young!
Anyway, I’ve always loved pasta salad. And with Mother’s Day this coming weekend, and Memorial day soon to follow, that means pasta salad season is here, and I’m all for it. What’s awesome about pasta salad is that it can be made completely in advance. It’s even delicious when served warm or cold, making it perfect for picnics and BBQ’s.
I’ve shared a couple of pasta salads in the past, but today’s is extra special, and a little different from my previous versions.
Say hello to the antipasto pasta salad. Think of your favorite antipasto platter, add pasta, plus an herby parmesan vinaigrette that’s sweet, tangy, and so good. In my opinion, this is a step up from the platter version, because let’s be honest, everything is made better with pasta and cheese.
Here are the details.
Step one is to cook your pasta. I like to use a fun short cut pasta. Something like a penne or fusilli, but any short cut pasta works really well.
Step two is to make the vinaigrette. It’s a sweet and tangy mix of olive oil, champagne vinegar (one of my favorite ingredients right now), shallots, fresh thyme, lemon, and parmesan.
I like to whisk up the vinaigrette in the bowl I plan to serve the salad in. This will save you a dish to clean, and honestly, it just makes sense to do it this way.
Step three is tossing the HOT pasta with the vinaigrette. Using hot pasta breaks down the raw shallot and infuses the vinaigrette with a tangy, herby flavor. Go with me on this, use hot pasta. It’s the key to a really good, mayo free, pasta salad.
Step four, adding in all the classic antipasto ingredients: roasted peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, spicy salami, fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, and plenty of fresh basil.
And that’s it. Crazy simple, but crazy good, and filled with so much color too!
Personally, I love enjoying this salad warm. But of course it’s delicious served both right out of the fridge or at room temperature. I will say that if you let the salad sit for a day, it develops a more intense “marinated” flavor, which is particularly delicious.
Either way, it’s going to be good, and loved by all. I’m already excited to serve this all summer long. I might even make it again for Sunday’s Mother’s Day dinner. Bonus? Any leftovers will make a killer Monday lunch…very into that.
Lastly, if you make this antipasto pasta salad, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Antipasto Pasta Salad with Herby Parmesan Vinaigrette.
Grab your favorite pasta, whisk up an herby parmesan vinaigrette, toss with hot pasta, roasted peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, spicy salami, and fresh mozzarella…and done. So full of flavor and color, and could not be easier to pull off.
- 1 pound short cut pasta
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup champagne or red wine vinegar
- 1 small shallot, grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 roasted red bell peppers, sliced
- 1 jar (14 ounce) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes oil, drained and chopped
- 4 ounces spicy salami, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, torn
- 1-2 cups baby arugula
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, to a large serving bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, the shallot, thyme, lemon zest, parmesan, pine nuts (if using), and a pinch each of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add half the basil and the hot pasta and toss vigorously to combine.
3. Add the bell peppers, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, salami, mozzarella, and half the arugula, tossing to combine. At this point, the salad can be served warm (my preference) or cooled and kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
4. To serve, bring the pasta to room temp. Top with the remaining arugula and basil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Enjoy!
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