REB’s brother makes the most amazing warm pasta salad. We’ve made it a few times and I’ve posted pictures of it on Flickr, but I decided it was time to post the recipe since I actually asked REB to tell me how much of what he put in.
This pasta salad evolved when REB and his family were in Vermont, where they vacationed every year when they were growing up (right through college, actually). They own a share out there and trek out there for a week. Apparently one time while out getting groceries, they wanted to get this pasta salad that looked uber delicious, but cost quite a bit (common in Vermont: the land of organic, delicious food). REB’s brother, who we’ll call RLB (/wink), said he could probably make it, so they bought some ingredients, went back to their share, and he made it. It was a success.
The first time I had this dish I was in heaven. it’s so simple and reminds me of summer and also reminds me of REB’s family. We try to make it a few times a year, but it makes a TON so be prepared to have leftovers for 3-4 days. This easily serves about 8-10. I’m sure it should be served as a side dish, but it always is a main dish for us.
Here’s what you’ll need:
•1 1/2 pounds Penne (that’s 1 1/2 boxes ;))
•1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
•1 red bell pepper, chopped
•1 orange bell pepper, chopped
•1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
•1/4 cup (basically cut a smaller half) red onion, chopped
•1 8 oz. block fat free mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
•1 can medium whole black olives (or whatever olive you prefer…we think black works better than green in this dish though) NOTE: save about half the liquid from the can
•1/2 cup olive oil (I know that sounds like a lot, but you’re making it in a big vat, so it’s not THAT bad
•1/2 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce (more if you want a real kick)
•1/2 cup red wine vinegar
•1/2 the liquid from the can of olives
•Couple splashes of balsamic vinegar (you don’t want this dish to be sweet though, so 1-2 splashes will be fine)
•S&P to taste
In addition to the block of mozzarella cheese, we also buy fresh mozzarella. We don’t use the whole thing, but this is what we top the whole dish with (just a few pieces) so it kind of melts into ooey-gooey-cheesy-heaven as you eat it. This is totally optional and you’ll have leftovers of this cheese to make an antipasti platter or Caprese salad or whatever.
On to the cooking!
Boil water and cook the pasta according to the package. Drain and set aside. Add the dressing/liquid, half the cubed cheese and stir. Then you add the vegetables and the rest of the cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Top with the fresh mozzarella if you want, or it’s ready to go! We eat it warm, but it really tastes best if you let it sit a day and then reheat it. I don’t know why, but it does. Or you can have it cold as a side dish.
It’s the perfect summer dish and yes, it has a lot of dressing, but it’s well distributed so it’s actually quite light. I love it! And the best part is eating it for the next three days. Enjoy!