Antipasto Salad

It’s hot, you have lots to do. Preheating the oven should not be part of your dinner prep. This salad is an easy summer supper or a great potluck dish.

During my first pregnancy, I craved meat. I wasn’t a big meat eater, so maybe I needed the protein? Who knows why these things happen. I frequented a local organic butcher (who sadly, is now closed), and in addition to great meat, they had amazing sandwiches, side dishes, and brownies. Their Cuban was to die for, and by the time I was nine months pregnant, they automatically added a brownie to my tab before I could reach for one (they kept them next to the register).

We stopped on our way out of town for a camping trip to pick up some sausages to roast over the campfire, and I noticed an antipasto salad in their deli case. It had big olives, chunks of salami and cheese, flecks of fresh herbs, and slices of pale green pepperoncini. I wanted to eat a lot of it, right then. For some reason, the fact that I thought my husband might think it was odd road trip food stopped me from getting it. Since I was pregnant, and had carte blanche to eat anything weird that I wanted, I’m not sure why I resisted.

I passed it by, and they never had it again. It’s taken me 3 years to get around to making my own, and it was delish. And no, I’m not pregnant.

Antipasto Salad

13.25 oz whole wheat pasta (one box – didn’t these used to be 16 oz?)
1/2 cup red wine or balsamic vinaigrette (use one you really like)
2 cups salami, small dice
1/2 cup Greek olives, chopped
1 cup cheese, cubed (I used fontina, but fresh mozzarella or provolone would be good too)
3-4 whole roasted sweet peppers, chopped (jarred are fine)
1 cup artichokes, chopped (jarred or canned)
1 cup cherry or chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh herbs, minced (any combination of chives, parsley, oregano, thyme or basil would be good)
salt and pepper to taste
Pepperoncini, chopped
Salad greens (optional)

Note: This is best made a few hours ahead of time. We ate this over salad greens for dinner, but it could also be a pasta side dish minus the greens.

1) Cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Drain and put in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette while pasta is still warm, stir to coat.

2) In a separate bowl, combine salami, olives, cheese, roasted peppers, artichokes, and tomatoes.

3) Add salami/vegetable mixture to pasta when pasta has cooled (otherwise, your cheese will melt.) Add herbs and salt and pepper, stir well.

4) Create a graph of the spiciness of your pepperoncini compared to the wussiness of your family, and then either mix some directly into the salad, or serve separately at the table.  Serve over salad greens, or on the side. Bring to room temperature if you made it ahead of time and put it in the fridge.