Italian pasta salad was the first pasta salad I tried. Salads up to that point, at least in this area of the country, used lettuce as the main ingredient. Italian pasta salad is a colorful blend of pasta and a variety of vegetables coated in a flavorful dressing. It is a good recipe for entertaining and for serving at cookouts because it can be made the day before it is wanted.
Macaroni or pasta salad recipes began appearing in American cookbooks in the 20th century. They were usually served as side dishes. Recipes for pasta salads became very popular during the 1960s and no cookout was considered complete without at least one type. The earliest recipes were for molded pasta and were served cold with a mayonnaise or cream sauce. Pasta salads were served along with cold meats during hot weather before air conditioning was common in homes. They provide a wonderful way to use leftovers.
The recipe will make between 4 to 6 servings. It could be easily extended by adding more beans.
- 8 oz. of pasta, cooked
- Olive oil
- 1 large tomato, skinned and chopped
- 1 can of, Italian or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup diced green pepper
- ¼ of an onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Italian salad dressing, bottled or homemade
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Spiral three colored pasta is usual for this salad. Do not overcook the pasta. Put in a colander, drain and rinse with cold water. Put the pasta in a large bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil and toss to coal the pasta and keep the pasta from sticking together.
Drain and rinse the beans. Peel and chop the tomatoes. If you don’t like peeling tomatoes use cherry tomatoes cut in half or well drained canned tomatoes. Clean and dice the green pepper. Mince the onion or use sliced green onions. Mince the garlic. Toss all the ingredients with the pasta. Pour on enough bottled or homemade Italian salad dressing to coat the pasta well. Salt and pepper to taste. Add additional Italian seasoning if you want. Cover and refrigerate. Stir well and add more dressing and seasoning if needed before serving.
Don’t worry about measurements of ingredients. It can be as varied as you want.
Additional items such as sliced olives, bits of slivered ham, crisp bacon bits, diced zucchini, fresh basil, cappers, and almost anything else can be added to the basic salad.
The dressing used should not be too thick. Dilute it with lemon juice, milk, oil or other liquid until it pores easily but is still thick enough to coat the pasta.
Mustard, horseradish and other seasonings can be added to plain mayo and used as a dressing.