Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

Grilling and salads are the order of the month for July, especially during this heat wave currently cooking the entire Pacific Northwest.

This flavorful pasta salad is the perfect light dinner when the day has been long and brutally hot.

Fresh mozzarella, strips of zesty pepperoni, tons of tasty fresh veggies, and a light herb dressing resulted in simple reaction from the entire family- YUM!

My favorite part about this particular pasta salad? Throwing in the first zucchini and yellow squash of the season from my garden!

Italian Pasta Salad

32 oz dried multicolored pasta
1 large cucumber, chopped
2 medium green zucchini, thinly sliced and quartered if necessary
2 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced and quartered if necessary
1 red pepper, diced
12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered
12 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
12 oz pepperoni slices, cut into thin strips

Creamy Dressing:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
6 Tblsp mayonnaise (I use Trader Joe’s Real Mayo but any good quality mayo will work)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
6-8 large leaves of fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
2 Tblsp white wine
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Add all dressing ingredients, except olive oil, to blender or food processor and blend well. Add olive oil in a slow steady stream until incorporated and dressing has emulsified. Refrigerate dressing until remaining ingredients are ready.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well and cool under cold running water.  In a large mixing bowl combine drained pasta, all vegetables and mozzarella cubes.

Pour desired amount of dressing over top and stir well.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow flavors to blend.

Serves 8-10

*Note: Any extra dressing keeps well for up to one week