8 oz rotini
1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 1/2 oz turkey pepperoni, sliced
1 large cubanelle pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
10 pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
for the dressing:
2 oz olive oil
2 oz red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool. Place the pasta and the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss. In a small bowl or dressing shaker, mix together the dressing ingredients until emulsification occurs. Drizzle over the salad and toss again. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.
Every year around this time I really, really want to eat light, spring-like dishes. Unfortunately, living in the mid-Atlantic means that despite recent warm weather, there are virtually no vegetables or fruits in season locally right now. Overwintered rhubarb or leeks maybe but that’s about it. So frustrating. So what I’ve been doing is making a lot of salads that don’t absolutely rely on in season vegetables to be awesome. I’ve been getting a head start on grilling some proteins for this summer’s grilling posts and these salads are prefect accompaniments; I can make them ahead of time leaving me free to grill without running back and forth to the kitchen. The trick is to include enough fresh ingredients in the salad to keep it from tasting too straight from the cupboard but nothing that truly needs to be in season to be delicious like tomatoes or corn. A bit of fresh Italian parsley brightens the dressing, hot house English cukes and cubanelles are pretty tasty year round. Good quality olives, Parmesan and pepperoni round it out and add an Italian edge which makes it robust enough to serve along steaks or pork marinaded with Italian herbs. The leftovers make a tasty light lunch the next day too.