Author: Susanne at Dish With Me
Edited March 28, 2023
Ahh, fresh pasta salad! Simple and satisfying. Pasta salad can be a perfect dish any time of the year, but can be especially satisfying during the dog days of summer. Depending on the ingredients you choose, pasta salad can be a light and refreshing side dish or a meal on its own. Try this Fresh Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad to tantalize your taste buds.
A word about the pasta…I am fond of the flavor of whole wheat pasta, but if that doesn’t do it for you, use regular pasta. Many people like to use spiral shaped pasta because the dressing gets all cozy inside the grooves of the pasta. I like to use spaghetti. I don’t have an explanation as to why. Maybe it’s just fun to slurp! But, I do, also, use rotini on occasion. In this post I have shown pictures of, both spaghetti and rotini style pasta.
I updated this on March 28, 2023 to add that I made this, again, today and switched out a couple items and I swear this is the very best version I’ve made! Instead of using a red bell pepper, I used a 16.4 ounce jar of Roasted Red Bell Peppers from Trader Joe’s and instead of making 2 packets of Italian dressing per package instructions, I used a 12 ounce bottle of Italian dressing with Romano cheese from Trader Joe’s. Those that know me, know that I am not a fan of most bottled dressings, but this dressing was phenomenal with this dish. I still added all the spices, Dijon and balsamic vinegar, etc. Try it! I think you’ll LOVE it!
As you know, the ingredients in my recipe are all optional. If you don’t like one of the ingredients, by all means, leave it out. If there is a different ingredient that you love and you think it will pair well with the other ingredients, throw it in! Have fun with it! After all, this is for you!
There are a few other ingredients I need to mention. The dressing…my preference is the dry Italian dressing packet (I use Good Seasons). This is the regular, not the zesty. To me, the regular just tastes like Italian dressing should taste, but you know the rule, if you like the zesty, use it! I much prefer the packets over the bottled dressings. I am just not the biggest fan of bottled dressings.
Now, about the olives. Although the black olives or the green olives stuffed with pimento, jalapenos or garlic are quite delicious, the green olives in this recipe are in a can from the same section of the store as the black olives. They are very mild and buttery.
As for the cucumbers, I choose English cucumbers because they tend to be less seedy and the seeds that are in them are generally smaller and more tender. Also, I have found that English cucumbers tend to be less bitter.
Make sure the jarred artichoke hearts you choose are MARINATED, not just in a brine. Frozen is good, too.
One last thing regarding ingredients is shaved parmesan cheese. Regular parmesan cheese (the powdery kind) will work, but shaved parmesan just hits different. Sometimes I use both! Try it with both!
Helpful Hints for Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad
Use whatever type of pasta you like best. The first few times you make this recipe, try making it with several different pasta styles to find out which is your favorite.
Cook pasta per package directions; drain, rinse with cold water and let cool down completely. EVOO stands for extra virgin olive oil.
Use your imagination and try different ingredients to see what combination you like best.
Try to keep your chopped/diced items about the same size.
Taste test at the end to determine if it needs any additional Kosher salt or pepper. The amount that I have listed in the recipe is what I use, but you determine how salty you like yours.
If you’re having this for left-overs, you can change it up a bit by adding some cooked and chilled shrimp. YUM!!! PERFECT summertime meal, as far as I am concerned.
Some other ingredients that might pair well with this dish: black olives, zucchini, pepperoni, pre-cooked shrimp, marinated mushrooms (I often add these bites of yum), different cheeses like, cubed Monterey jack or pepper jack, pre-cooked and chopped asparagus, little bits of cauliflower. Let your imagination run free!
This recipe makes a TON! If you are making this for just a couple people, you might consider cutting the recipe in half…or you could share it with someone…that would be really nice!
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FRESH EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK PASTA SALAD
- 1 lb Pasta Whatever you like, cook per package directions
- 2 envelopes dry Italian dressing mix made per package instructions, plus the following ingredients
- 2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard
- 2 cloves fresh garlic finely grated with a microplane
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dill weed dried
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend dried
- 2 cups cherry/grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 English cucumber quartered, diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded, diced
- 1/2 red onion finely diced
- 1 can mild green or black olives
- 2 jars marinated quartered artichoke hearts
- 1/2 cup powdered parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shaved or shredded parmesan cheese
- 12 ounces marinated mozzarella balls halved, or slices cubed
- 12 ounces dry salami each slice halved
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt or to taste
- 20 grinds freshly ground pepper or to taste
- In a large pot, cook pasta, per package directions, with the addition of a tablespoon of Kosher salt and a swirl of EVOO to the water.
- Once finished cooking, drain the pasta, rinse under cold water and set aside to drain.
- In a medium bowl, prepare the Italian dressing packages, per package instructions.
- To the prepared dressing, add all of the remaining spices and the Dijon mustard, fresh garlic, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Whisk and set aside.
- Slice, dice and prepare the remaining ingredients. Set aside.
- PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
- Pull out the BIGGEST bowl you have, or a very big pot and get ready to layer.
- Layer about 1/3 of the pasta, 1/3 of the goodies and 1/3 of the dressing. Using tongs or 2 wooden spoons. Repeat this 2 more times.
- This can be enjoyed right away, but is even better after it has had time to chill for at least an hour, or two.