Chef Dad's Italian Pasta Salad
-1 lb. pkg. pasta (penne, bow tie, macaroni, or your favorite shaped pasta)
-10 oz. grape tomatoes (sliced in half or thirds, depending on how big they are)
-1 cup black olives (pitted, drained and sliced)
-1 cup Spanish olives (small- to medium-sized, drained and sliced)\
-8 oz. salami (your favorite, cubed)
-8 oz. Provolone cheese (cubed)
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
-1 cup Italian dressing (your favorite brand, shaken well)
-1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1) First, prep your meat, veggies and cheeses then set aside.
2) In a small bowl, whisk together your mayo and Italian dressing then set aside.
3) Before boiling our pasta, we need to make an “ice bath.” This will be used to “shock” the pasta when it comes out of the boiling water. We do this because we want the pasta to stop cooking and cool down as well. Get a large bowl filled 1/3 of the way with ice. Now add water till it comes about 1/2 full.
4) Get a large pot of salted water over high heat up to a boil for your pasta. Put it in and cook the pasta per its package instructions. When it’s done, drain well. Keep the pasta in your strainer then dunk it in your ice bath for a few minutes to cool. Pull the strainer out of the ice bath to drain again. Set the pasta in the strainer on your counter then blot it with a paper towel to remove the excess water from the noodles. Now put the noodles in a large bowl so we can mix the remaining ingredients together.
5) Combine the ingredients by first adding the pasta, tomatoes, olives, both meats and cheeses. Toss to combine then add your mayo/dressing mixture and mix well. Taste the mixture then add desired amount of salt and pepper. I usually start out with about 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. of pepper, but you may not want any at all. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to overnight. This recipe serves at least 12 to 16 people as a side dish.
Cooks option: I let my grocer's deli do most of the work by ordering the salami and Provolone sliced 1/4 of an inch thick. That way, when I get home, all I have to do is cross cut those slices to make my small cubes. If your salami slices have a thick outer skin on them, remove it before cubing the meat. Other optional ingredients which we like are pepperoni or freshly diced bell peppers. Finally, you can leave out the mayo if you want, just add another 1/4 cup of Italian dressing to the mix. But if you leave the salad in the fridge for an extended period of time, you may need to add a bit more dressing to it since the pasta will absorb the dressing after 12 to 24 hours.
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