Party Pasta Salad

Party Pasta Salad is my “go to” salad for parties, potlucks, and summer grilling. It is sooo good served as a side dish with grilled meats or as a main dish on a bed of greens. Whatever your fancy, my Party Pasta Salad is big hit. I would even call it a crowd pleaser. I have yet to come home with any leftovers, just a nice clean bowl. But beware, the last time I brought this to a potluck, I didn’t get a single bite! It disappeared after I set it out and we are talking 10 minutes tops on the table. It was gone. Poof.

My secret weapon. Shhh. You ready? I have resorted to stashing a bowl of this for myself – before the party.  It’s only fair payment for being the life of the party, right? Trust me you will want to do the same.

This is my mine. My secret stash. Party Pasta Salad enjoyed after the party!

I make this super yummy dish not just because it is easy, travels well, and feeds a crowd, but also because it is versatile.  No fancy ingredients required and inexpensive to boot. Picky eaters? Make it your own by adding 2 cups of your favorite vegetables.  I have prepared Party Pasta Salad a variety of ways, using frozen stir fry packs with asparagus, fresh squash and in today’s version, fresh broccoli and red bell pepper. Usually, I end up using whatever is reasonable, in season, or ingredients that I find in my freezer or pantry. Easy and delicious, my Party Pasta Salad always comes out perfecto!

Without further ado, let’s get this Party Pasta Salad started!

Ingredients: 1 box (14.5 – 16 oz.) Pasta of choice, ½ to 1 whole onion, 2-3 medium ripe tomatoes ~OR~ 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, 1 red bell pepper, 1 head broccoli ~OR~ 1 frozen stir fry package of choice, 1 cup fresh basil, ½ cup  fresh parsley, ½ to 1 cup Feta or Parmesan cheese (or both) and 1 cup Easy Vinaigrette (Party Pasta Salad version) or Vinaigrette of choice.

Cut the onion in half and into baby moons.

Throw them in a colander

Julienne the red bell pepper,

and throw it in the colander with onions.

Now comes the fun part.

Chop the broccoli into ½ inch pieces leaving on the little outer leaflets on the broccoli.  These mini broccoli leaves are tender and crisp.

Throw the broccoli in the colander with the other veggies and set it aside.

Cook the pasta 10 minutes or according to package directions. The pasta should be firm. When the pasta is done, put the veggie colander in the sink and get ready to pour the hot water and pasta over the vegetables.

You can either:
A) pour the hot pasta water over the veggies (like I did today) or
B) pour the hot water and pasta over the veggies.

As observed it works both ways, my preferred method being B); pouring the pasta and hot water over the veggies. The hot water will blanch (quick cook) the vegetables.

Run cold water over the pasta and the veggies. Set the cool pasta and veggies aside.

Get out a large bowl either for mixing or serving or both. I like options and simplicity so I do it all in one bowl. Yum garlic. The stinking rose.

Coarsely chop 1 cup basil and ½ cup fresh parsley

Throw it in a bowl. There is a party theme here. It’s called throw it in a bowl.

Chop your tomatoes, nice and uniform and guess what your gonna do.

Yep – throw it in the bowl.

Drain the can of olives and repeat.

Pour the veggies from the colander into the bowl and

Yum – it’s almost party time. If you poured the pasta over the veggies then they would both be in here now. No worries. Party Pasta is goof proof. But not goofy proof.

I recommend washing the hands. Yep, now let’s get ‘em dirty. Mix it all up!

I am now adding the pasta which you may have already tossed together in the last part.

Easy Vinaigrette makin’ time. Click on the link for a step by step instructions.

Pour 1 cup over the top and

give it a good stir. Now do a goofy party jig. See? Party Pasta Salad and me = NOT goofy proof.
Make sure the pasta and veggies are thoroughly coated.

Add the Feta. Meesa likes a lot.

Now grate some Parmesan over the top. Keep going.

Mix in the cheese and now we are ready.

At least I am.

Let’s party!

My bite. From my secret stash. Yum.

And yee haw! Part of the big party in my mouth.

Printable Recipe Printable Recipe

Party Pasta Salad

1 box (14.5 – 16 oz.) Pasta of choice
1 cup Easy Vinaigrette or Vinaigrette of choice

½ to 1 whole onion, sliced into half moon shapes
2 cups fresh or frozen veggies of choice
My favorite variations:
1 – 16 oz. frozen stir fry package of choice
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 head of broccoli, chopped into ½ inch pieces

Place the prepared or frozen vegetables, and sliced onion into a large colander. Cook pasta for 10 minutes or according to package instructions. The pasta should be firm; DO NOT OVERCOOK. Pour the cooked pasta with the hot water over the vegetables in the colander. The hot pasta water will blanch (quick cook) the vegetables. Run cool water over the veggies and pasta. Let drain and set aside.

2-3 medium very ripe tomatoes ~OR~ 1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 2.25 oz. can sliced olives, drained
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh  basil, coarsely chopped
½ to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or crumbled feta cheese or a mix of both
Optional: ½ – 1 lemon juiced

In a large serving or mixing bowl, add the parsley, basil, diced or canned tomatoes and sliced olives. Add the cooled cooked pasta and vegetables into the same bowl. Stir in the prepared Easy Vinaigrette, until the vegetables and pasta are thoroughly coated. Mix in the cheese. Add the (optional) lemon juice to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Easy Vinaigrette (Party Pasta Salad version)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ -1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients into a small glass mixing bowl or glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Whisk together or shake well. Makes 1 cup.