Thursday, July 15, 2010

I am baaack! Pasta salad days...

Hi all! It's been a looong while since I last posted. I've been going through some personal stuff and have been in a blogging funk....I think it is time that I snap out of it and get back to work :)

So.....pasta salad...Love it? Hate it or maybe you are one who can take it or leave it? I am one who can take it or leave it. I find pasta salads bland and flavorless, that is until I discovered this recipe. I am huge fan of antipasto and this salad pairs pasta and all the antipasto fixings. If you hate pasta salad or can do without it, you MUST try this one and I guarantee you will be a convert. It is a little time consuming to make but let me tell you, it is well worth the effort. The recipe was adapted from Americans Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. I have added some marinated artichoke to it, because I love them you can also add olives if you'd like.

8 ounces sliced pepperoni , cut into 1/4-inch strips
8 ounces soppressata or salami, halved and cut into 1/4-inch strips
10 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 jar pepperoncini (12-ounce), drained, (2 tablespoons juice reserved), stemmed, and chopped coarse
4 garlic cloves , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 pound spiral pasta
1 pound white mushrooms , quartered
1 cup shredded provolone cheese , aged
12 ounces roasted red peppers , drained, patted dry, and chopped coarse
1 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Place one paper towel on microwave-safe plate. Arrange pepperoni in single layer on paper towel. Cover with another paper towel and layer sopresatta on towel. Top with another paper towel and microwave on highest power until meat begins to render fat, about 1 minute. Set meat aside.

2. Whisk 5 tablespoons vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, pepperoncini juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl.

3. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, return to pot, and toss with 1/2 cup dressing and remaining vinegar. Adjust seasonings, spread dressed pasta on rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring remaining dressing to simmer in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool.

5. Add meat, provolone, roasted red peppers, chopped pepperoncini, basil, and cooled pasta to mushrooms and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.