Okay, so I’ve obviously been watching waaay too much Kitchen Boss lately. My daughter, Casey and I have been watching Buddy Valastro on Cake Boss on TLC for several years now. We have spent countless hours together in the kitchen since she was very young as she shares my love of all things food. I have taught her everything I know. She even has great knife skills. Casey is really turning out to be a very talented baker and cake decorator, and she’s only 12!
We were so excited when we found out Buddy was branching out into a new cooking show all centered around Italian food. Needless to say, we have not been disappointed. My Italian roots come from Sicily where The Valastro’s family roots are as well. The recipes buddy makes are so close to my family’s, and every bit as delicious.
One of my first jobs was working in a pizza restaurant, Upper Crust, formerly Stuft Pizza in Vista (I wonder if Frank DiStefano is still the manager?). My best friend since junior high, and fellow Greek, Helen Rodittis-Hanlon and I, worked together there. We helped make pretty much everything from scratch. We used to roll out the dough balls and toss them in the air like a real Italian pizzeria. We made Calzones, Pasta Salads, Italian Subs and so much more. We had one of those great, big ovens with the rotating shelves inside. The thing got so hot and we had to use the wooden paddles to put the pizza’s in and take them out. After doing that for a few hours every day, your hands get really dry and your nails get very brittle. It was a good time and we ate well. Man, am I craving an Hombre Calzone right now.
To this day, I make Stuft Pizza’s Pasta Salad and bring it to family occasions and serve at parties. It is still always a hit and I get at least one recipe request every time I make it. Today I am going to share the recipe with you. It is the easiest thing you will ever make, and makes a great addition to almost any meal and is especially good for picnics as it has no mayonnaise or anything in it that will spoil easily.
First you will need:
1 lb box of Tri-Color Rotini Pasta (I prefer Barilla or Ronzoni)
1 bottle of Girard’s Italian Dressing (It MUST be Girard’s Italian)
1 can of medium black olives
1/2 cup of peperoncini pepper slices
1 cup of fresh-cut broccoli crowns
1 large red bell pepper cut into 1 inch long strips
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts drained and coarsely chopped
1 jar of marinated button mushrooms (if desired)
Cook the pasta as directed (a little more al dente is perfect)
Drain pasta and rinse with cool water to stop cooking
Allow to drain for about 3-5 minutes and move to large bowl
Pour in the Girard’s Italian dressing and toss
Add in all other ingredients and toss again
Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours
The Salad tastes best when it has sat in the fridge a couple of days, stirring occasionally, if you can get it to last that long. It will keep good for about a week in the fridge. I doubt it will last more than a day though. This is the one thing my daughter, Hollie always wants and has constantly craved and eaten throughout her 20 weeks of pregnancy so far.
Here’s what it should look like when you are done.
Here’s what it looks like when we are done.
The best part about this salad is you can change just about anything you want. Add some sliced or diced onions, cubes of cheese, salami or pepperoni. Add some cherry tomatoes, grated Pecorino Romano or some fresh basil or Italian flat-leaf parsley. The main thing I never change is the dressing. It’s what makes the salad great. Here’s a picture of the dressing so you know what to look for. It can be pricey, but for this, it’s worth every penny.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has many for years.
By the way… later tonight for dinner we are making more Italian goodness, so I’ll post as soon as I get the pics ready and we enjoy.
In the meantime… Enjoy your food, cherish your family and savor every last crumb life throws at you.