Fast forward 30 or so years later and I had it again at a work potluck and I was in love. One of my co-workers was a vegetarian and she brought it for everyone to enjoy. I'm not a vegetarian by any means but I do love a good vegetarian meal every so often. I asked her what her recipe was and she gave me a quick rundown. So, of course, I put my own spin on it because I know my family is made up of a bunch of meat-eaters! Also, if you have kids and they aren't big veggie fans, this dish is perfect for them to try.
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 7 mins
Chill Time: 1 hour
- 1 box Rotini (I use the tri-colored ones to give it more color but you can use any)
- Approximately 8-10 mini bell peppers, diced
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- 1 tbsp of feta cheese
- Half a pack of sliced salami (to further slice in thin strips), equivalent to 1/2 cup
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup Italian dressing
- 1/2 cup of cilantro or basil, chopped
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Optional: olive oil
In a large pot, fill with water (enough to cover the pasta) and bring to a boil. Heavily salt the water - I use sea salt - to give the pasta more flavor. Adding about 2 tbsp of olive oil is optional...I do this so the noodles don't stick together but it's up to you. Some people don't see/feel a difference but my family and I do. Follow the cooking directions on the pasta box for the rotini (boil about 7-10 mins in water).
If the water is boiling too much, feel free to turn down the heat a bit. Stir occasionally and try not to overcook the pasta. You want the pasta "al dente". For those of you who don't know what that means, it's when the pasta is still a bit firm when eaten. I've tasted a lot of soggy pasta in my day and it's kind of a big let-down.
While the pasta is cooking, go ahead and grab a large bowl to add your raw and pre-cooked ingredients then get to dicing and chopping!
Take your black olives and marinated artichoke, then chop. I buy the pre-sliced olives in cups to cut down the time. The artichoke and cilantro can be roughly chopped. Take the sliced salami and further cut into smaller pieces..
For this next ingredient, it can be omitted from the dish or be replaced, but I add mini bell peppers because it's so hearty and crunchy. I dice them into tiny pieces so it doesn't look so intimidating to the kids or anyone else who hates veggies.
While your pasta's cooling, you can chop your cilantro or basil leaves. You can add to the salad little by little then use any remaining as a garnish.
Ready to SERVE!
Not only is this dish super simple and low maintenance, it's a winner with most. My 9-year-old is super picky but she actually eats everything in this dish! She's legit excited every time I make it. I've made this dish for potlucks and it's one of the first dishes to be completely devoured.