There’s just something about summer that makes me want to make cookout food…burgers, sausages, cold salads (that don’t contain mayonnaise). Italian pasta salad is my favorite summery salad, full of fresh vegetables, two kinds of lactose-free cheese, and pepperoni, all immersed in delicious Italian dressing and seasoning. I don’t have a recipe to link to here because this is my very own recipe.
I made up this recipe well over a decade ago when I was still living in Ohio. I often went to cookouts and parties at my best friend’s house, and my pasta salad was my claim to fame. As drunken munchies kicked in, the entire bowl would inevitably disappear.
One of my favorite things about making pasta salad (besides munching on “extra” cheese cubes along the way) is that the finished product actually looks better with uneven knife cuts. That’s good for me because I’m just a girl having fun in her kitchen, not a classically trained chef, and I can’t cut anything into perfectly uniform pieces.
1 lb. rotini (or pasta of your choice)
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced longways
1 bell pepper, any color
1/2 package pepperoni, quartered
4 oz sharp cheddar, cubed (I use Kraft – lactose free)
4 oz pepper jack or other cheese of choice (this time I used Cabot Habanero Cheddar – also lactose-free)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 bottle Italian salad dressing
Italian seasoning to taste
Parmesan shaker cheese to taste
I always chop the vegetables, cheese, and pepperoni while I’m waiting for the pasta to boil. Then, just drain the pasta and mix everything together in a big bowl. Coat thoroughly with Italian dressing and season with the Italian seasoning and Parmesan to taste. Chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or so and it’s time to eat!
Pro tip: the pasta tends to soak up a lot of the dressing initially so I always hold back some of the dressing and add more when it’s chilled.
What’s your favorite summer cookout dish? Talk to me in the comments!