This recipe was enjoyed at a family reunion picnic recently. It received many compliments and I noticed  many going back for seconds, which is always a good sign. Enjoy!

16 oz box rotini pasta

8 oz pepperoni chopped in small pieces

8 oz  cheese of your choice cubed, I used Muenster

1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped, reserve the marinade

1 can black olives, drained

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin

12 oz of your favorite Italian dressing, homemade or store bought

Boil your pasta being careful not to over cook. Stir gently to prevent breaking up pasta. In the meantime chop pepperoni, cheese, and marinated artichoke hearts. When pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Place in a large nonreactive bowl or container. Add artichokes, cheese, pepperoni, and black olives. Dress with reserved artichoke marinade and mix. Place in frig until serving day. Before serving add dressing, tomatoes, and basil.

The marinade from the artichokes helps keep the pasta from sticking together until it’s time to add your Italian dressing, and it adds flavor. If you add the Italian dressing too soon it will soak into the pasta and you will have a dry salad or need to add additional dressing which will add additional expense and calories. This is up to  you. Tomatoes should remain at room temperature. Refrigerating tomatoes alters their flavor and texture. Your basil will wilt if mixed in too early so it is also best mixed in at the last minute before serving.

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