the perfect pasta salad

Creating the perfect pasta salad involves balancing flavors, textures, and colors to create a harmonious dish. Here’s a recipe for a classic pasta salad that you can customize to your liking:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) pasta of your choice (such as rotini, fusilli, or penne)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional add-ins:

  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Chopped salami or pepperoni
  • Cooked shrimp or chicken
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Steamed broccoli florets
  • Peas or corn

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, black olives, green olives, parsley, and basil to the bowl with the cooked pasta.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, honey or maple syrup, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
  4. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss everything together until well combined and evenly coated.
  5. If using any optional add-ins, gently fold them into the salad.
  6. Cover the pasta salad and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  7. Before serving, give the pasta salad a quick toss and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Serve the perfect pasta salad chilled or at room temperature, garnished with additional fresh herbs if desired.

Enjoy your delicious and versatile pasta salad as a side dish or a light meal on its own!

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