Dad's Antipasto Salad
(Adapted from the Simply Italian Recipe Book)

Timing is Everything

This salad is definitely better prepared ahead of time. The dressing needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least a day to allow the flavors to blend. The pasta needs to be cooked the night before so that is will be cold and firm, so make the whole thing the night before. The flavors from the vegies and meat will flavor the pasta. Mix the pasta salad but don't apply any dressing until serving.
Pasta cooking tip: Pour 2 cups of cold tap water in the pot the instant it is done and it will stop cooking. Then drain it.

Selecting Your Ingredients

Get the largest rotini or rotelle you can find. Here, bigger is better. I use rotini or rotelle because the twists hold more dressing. Barilla makes some interesting pasta shapes, as do many other companies. I've tried Barilla Castellane with good results. Experiment.

If you don't have a pepper grinder, get one. They're cheap, and this also makes a big difference.

Get the meat and cheese at the deli, and ask them to slice it ½ thick. The pepperoni or salami makes a nice addition but is not necessary.

Be sure to get good, extra virgin olive oil. This makes a huge difference. Organic extra virgin is better. Olive oils vary greatly in taste so try them until you find one you like.

I always use Progresso Red Wine Vinegar - just because.
You can play with the veggie combinations. I sometimes add yellow and/or orange pepper. You can substitute red onions for white or combine the two. Add shallots for a mild garlic-like flavor. I often substitute a colored pepper for the tomato if I plan on keeping the salad for a few days in the fridge. Cut tomatoes don't age well.

The Dressing

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

In small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar and seasonings.
Place this in a glass cruet, jar or bottle and refrigerate overnight.

The Salad

6 cups (16 oz.) Rotini or Rotelle, uncooked.
1 cup chopped green pepper.
1 cup chopped red pepper.
2 cups chopped fresh tomato.
1½ cups chopped onion.
¾ cup (about 4 oz.) cubed Provolone cheese.
¼-½ lb. honey ham, cut into ½-inch cubes.
¼-½ lb. smoked turkey breast, cut into ½-inch cubes.
Thinly sliced pepperoni or salami, if desired.
½ cup sliced pitted ripe olives.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Rinse with cold water to cool quickly; drain well.
In large bowl, combine pasta & remaining ingredients.

Cover & refrigerate.


Makes about 12 servings.
Apply dressing to each serving as served. Shake very well for each serving, then pour it fast as this dressing separates quickly.