Pasta Salad



So when I say that this is one of the easiest to change up, I mean it. I’ve yet to have a bad combination in this salad, and often just use whatever I have on hand. It’s like the junk drawer of salad…tons of stuff. And you can absolutely add or leave things out of the salad depending on your taste preference, but this is my favorite. The key ingredients…the secret, if you will, to why this is amazingly superior to all others you have tried is…basil paste & feta cheese. As in this stuff:

You’ll want to remember this. Trust me.

I get annoyed with Ralphs because they sometimes carry this, and sometimes don’t. But anyway, despite it being unnecessarily (annoyingly) difficult to find sometimes, it is THE thing that makes this taste great. Dried, or even fresh basil doesn’t have the same effect–I know this because when Ralphs doesn’t carry it, I’ve tried. Anyway. When they have it, it’s in the refrigerated part of the fresh veggie areas. Ok, so to make this you’ll need a few basic ingredients for sure, and then I’ll list all the additional options you can think about adding in.

Basic ingredients:

1 bag rotini pasta
1 bottle italian dressing (I like Kraft’s Caesar Italian or Roasted Red Pepper best, but anything works, including low fat/fat free)
1 tube of basil paste
1 8oz feta cheese

Other ingredients: (add what you want)

-roasted red peppers
-cheddar cheese cubes
-sliced pepperoni/salami (I like turkey pepperoni)
-olives
-carrot pieces
-Broccoli pieces
-artichoke hearts
-sundried tomatoes/cherry tomatoes
-red onion
-parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente plus one minute. You don’t want too firm or mushy. Let drain completely and even dry out in the colander.

In the bowl you’ll be mixing everything in, add about 1/2 of the bottle of dressing, and about 3-4 tbsp of the basil paste and stir together. Toss in the pasta, add another 1/4 of the salad dressing and stir. Add in the feta cheese, and whatever other toppings you would like in your salad, and gently mix together. Let sit over night or a few hours, if possible, and add the remaining 1/4 bottle of dressing right before serving, as the pasta soaks up a lot of the liquid when sitting. (Omit this if you’re serving right after you make it.)

Enjoy!

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