There's something wonderfully summery about pasta salad. Since I gave up eating gluten over two years ago, I've been happy to discover quinoa pasta, so that I don't have to miss out on my favorite pasta salad this time of year. Quinoa pasta has great texture and flavor, it’s not finicky like rice pasta, and it’s high in protein, to boot!
I must admit that sadly, I’ve never been to Italy, but I just love the classic flavors and elegant simplicity of Italian food. There’s a richness and a decadence present in a simple Margharita pizza that really appeals to me, and the elements of this pasta salad reflect those classic flavors. My sister is headed (back) to Italy in a few weeks, and I'm looking forward to living vicariously through her photos and stories when she gets back.
This is my most favorite pasta salad recipe, and I hope you’ll enjoy making and sharing it with people you love this summer!
1lb of bite-sized quinoa pasta (I prefer to use a tri-colored variety, because it adds even more color to the salad, but I also enjoy the texture of shells very much in this recipe.)
AND 2lbs total of the following:
grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered, depending on their size)
artichoke hearts, cubed
roasted/grilled/sauteed asparagus spears, cut into 1-2" pieces
Garbanzo beans (If you've never cooked dried chick peas before, check out my roasted garlic hummus recipe for some tips.)
Calamata olives, sliced
bacon, cubed or crumbled
grilled chicken, cubed
8 oz smoked mozzarella, cubed
8 oz regular mozzarella, cubed (you could make your own!)
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 large green onions, diced
Salad dressing:½ cup sour cream (make your own)
½ cup mayonnaise (make your own)
½ Tablespoon garlic powder (or a clove of fresh garlic, minced)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs (Make sure you at least add some oregano and basil if you don't have an Italian herb blend.)
Pepper to taste (I don't add salt because there are already plenty of salty ingredients in this salad, but you may prefer to add some.)
- Cook the pasta in boiling water (with salt) until the pasta is tender.
- Drain the cooked pasta—but don't rinse it—then pour it out onto a cookie sheet to cool while you finish prepping the rest of the ingredients.
- Chop, dice, cube, crumble the rest of the ingredients (tomatoes, artichoke, asparagus, beans, olives, bacon, chicken, onions, and cheeses) and put them all into a large bowl. I use my largest mixing bowl for this salad, and it's the perfect size.
- Prepare the salad dressing in a smaller bowl by simply mixing all of the ingredients together until they're well combined.
- Add the pasta to the large bowl with the other ingredients, then pour the salad dressing on top.
- Mix it all together and you're done!
I hope you like making and eating my Italy-inspired pasta salad! I'm excited to start making it again this season as the weather continues to warm up.
Let me know in the comments if you experiment with different variations of this salad, so that I can try your ideas, too!