Summertime is definitively grilling season. Every night for dinner, it's burgers, ribs, grilled chicken, sausages and, occasionally, a grilled vegetable or two. Grilled food is great because it's fast, but cooking your entree outside does raise one particular challenge: side dishes. The query of what to serve with all of the best grilled dishes can be solved with this make-ahead Italian pasta salad.
Though we tend to be a big fans of making your own salad dressings (including your very own Italian vinagrette), this pasta salad is where bottled Italian dressing really comes in handy. The storebought stuff is particularly zesty — and easy. It's just the kind of shortcut you can use when you just want to whip something up in 20 minutes and call it a day. Though if you are inspired to go the homemade route, check out our video on making vinaigrette below.
Like all pasta salads, this Italian pasta salad is easily customizable. We kept the base recipe simple with the addition of bell pepper, red onion, cucumber and olives, but you can toss in mozzarella cheese balls, pepperoni, fresh vegetables or herbs from your garden or sun-dried tomatoes to shake up the flavors.
Regardless of what you put in your pasta salad, this dish comes together quickly and easily. The most effort you'll have to put forth is boiling water and dicing a few vegetables. So simple!
For easy summertime weeknight dinners, make this pasta salad on Sunday night and keep it in your fridge to serve all week long. It's a versatile side and the perfect "salad" for when you're sick of salads.
1 1/2 cups rotini or penne rigate pasta
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup green or black olives
1/4 cup Italian dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste
Step 1: Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.
Step 2: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3: Chill in your refigerator for four hours. Serve cold.