Have you ever been invited to an impromptu gathering, pot luck, or backyard bbq? It happens to me from time to time. Sometimes, I don’t have the time to make a dish to bring, forcing me to pick something up at the market. I have a reputation as a decent cook among my friends, so I hate having to buy something.
Today, it happened again. I needed to make a dish for a large gathering and was pinched for time. I wanted tasty, but fast. This was my solution. If you find yourself in this situation, this dish is quick and easy using most pantry staples. And it tastes fantastic.
The thing I love most about this salad is that it is a “toss it in” type salad. Don’t have a cucumber, but have a zucchini, toss it in. Don’t have fresh tomatoes, but have canned, toss it in. Don’t have whole olives but have diced, toss it in. Have some extra salami, toss it in. That’s really how this salad came to be. I was invited somewhere, didn’t want to buy anything, but didn’t have a lot of time to make anything laborious. I rummaged around in the pantry and refrigerator and came up with this dish. Simple to do, but full of flavor.
- 1 lb rotini pasta (or similar)
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese; cubed
- 10 oz cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 large cucumber; quartered and sliced
- 1/2 red onion; thinly sliced
- 2-2.25 oz cans diced olives; drained
- 1 cup fresh parmesan cheese; finely grated
- 11/2 cups light Italian salad dressing +/- to taste
- Salt/pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Once boiling, generously salt it and add the pasta.
Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente.
Drain and shake the water from the pasta.
Add the pasta to a large mixing bowl.
Add 1/3 cup of the salad dressing to the warm pasta and mix well.
This will help prevent the noodles from sticking together.
Set aside and allow the pasta to cool down.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients while the pasta is cooling.
Once the pasta has cooled, add the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and mozzarella cheese. Toss well.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the parmesan cheese and salad dressing. Mix well.
Serve it immediately or chill until ready to serve.