The BEST Pasta Salad

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The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!)

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!) #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

Time for another Way Back Wednesday Post! Not the kind where I talk about my passion for stirrup pants until the 8th grade (it’s not my fault they were so comfortable,) nor my sophomore year photography project of a 6″ angel garden statue complete with a Sarah McLachlan song written in pink jelly ink pen around it (GOD,) not even my four caboodle-strong stamp collection (complete with an embarrassingly large embossing powder lineup) – no, we’re talking unearthing my favorite recipes from the IGE archives to bring them some love here in the present!

Back in 2010 I shared the recipe for my Grandpa’s Pasta Salad as part of a Super Bowl post on what I was taking to a friend’s viewing party. It’s been buried for way too long, and is perfect for picnic and potluck season, so I’m re-sharing it today with the name it really deserves, The BEST Pasta Salad, with options to make it gluten-free, too!

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!) #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

This recipe was originally titled “Grandpa’s Pasta Salad” because it was, you guessed it, my Grandpa’s favorite pasta salad, which he requested for every special occasion. His family came from Czechoslovakia and had an affinity for boldly flavored foods like sauerkraut, pickled pigs feet, and pepperoni (smooth transition!) which is probably why he loved this salad so.

Cooked pasta is tossed with chopped pepperoni, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, a delicious spice blend and zesty Italian dressing for the perfect savory yet fresh picnic or potluck pasta salad. My family has been eating this dish for decades, and the good news is that it can be easily made gluten-free.

I love recipes that take you back to a certain time or place, and this recipe definitely does it for me. Traditionally we make this pasta salad with cooked fettuccini, which is a hard cut to find gluten-free, but I can specifically remember my Grandpa taking bites of this salad then slurping up the long noodles, which is how I used to eat it too. Fettuccini, rotini, wagon wheels – whatevah – my Grandpa knew what was up because this pasta salad is absolutely delicious. The secret’s in the spice blend. I’ll show you!

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!) #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

Start by cooking 1lb gluten-free, or regular, pasta in salted boiling water. It’s important to salt your pasta cooking water to flavor the pasta. It’s makes a huge difference taste-wise! Again, I couldn’t find GF fettuccini in a brand I liked so I used rotini, but you can use whatever shape you want.

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Cook the pasta until al dente then run under cold running water until the pasta has cooled.

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While the pasta’s cooking, shake up the dressing. Traditionally we use a jar of Kraft Zesty Italian for the dressing, but it’s not gluten-free. If you don’t need the dish to be GF, use the Kraft dressing, otherwise whip up the copycat Italian Dressing recipe here >

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Then whip up the spice blend – this is what really makes the pasta salad pop! If you don’t need the dish to be gluten-free, purchase a bottle of McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning. This stuff is seasoning GOLD! But it’s not gluten-free. No worries though, you can make a homemade gluten-free batch by using the copycat seasoning recipe here >

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Next, chop up the goodies – 6oz pepperoni (which sounds like a lot and it is – on purpose!) 1 cucumber, and 3 Roma tomatoes. Add everything to a large bowl with a 2.25oz can sliced black olives that has been drained.

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Finally, add the cooled pasta, seasonings, and 3/4 of the dressing then toss to combine. Refrigerate until cool then toss with the remaining dressing right before serving!

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!) #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

The BEST Pasta Salad

serves 8

Description

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!)

Ingredients

  • 1lb gluten-free pasta (or regular if dish does not need to be GF,) any shape
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded then chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded then chopped
  • 6oz pepperoni, chopped
  • 2.25oz can sliced olives, drained
  • 1 recipe Salad Supreme Seasoning, recipe link below (or 1/2 - 3/4 bottle McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning if dish does not need to be GF.)
  • 1 recipe Italian Salad Dressing, recipe link below (or 1 large bottle Kraft Zesty Italian if dish does not need to be GF.)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain then rinse under cold water to cool pasta down.
  2. Add tomatoes, cucumber, pepperoni, black olives, rinsed pasta, Salad Supreme Seasoning, and 3/4 of the Italian Salad Dressing to a large bowl then toss to combine. Refrigerate until completely chilled then add remaining salad dressing just before serving if necessary.

Notes

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!) #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

I honest to goodness have to remind myself to breathe while eating this pasta salad because it is just that good. Ben and I have tried experimenting with it over the years – adding sliced cheese and what not – but we always come back to the Grandpa-approved classic. ENJOY!

The BEST Pasta Salad is an old family recipe. Simple and simply the best (easily made gluten-free, too!) #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com


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Why I’m Thankful

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WE’RE BACK BABY!! AC is fixed, on and cooling my hot and weary body as we speak!!! Ahhhh…sweet, sweet cold bliss :) I shut all the blinds and drapes in the entire house too, so I’m sitting here in my cold, dark, cave-like house, muwahahaha… Gosh, did anyone else’s day…

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