The BEST Pasta Salad is a family recipe for pasta salad that’s easily made into gluten-free pasta salad. It’s the only party, holiday, and cookout side dish recipe you’ll need!
Time for another blast from the past! Not the kind where I talk about my passion for stirrup pants until the 8th grade, nor my sophomore year photography project of a 6″ angel garden statue with a Sarah McLachlan song written in pink jelly ink pen around it (GOD) – nope, we’re talking about 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 really is perfect for picnic and potluck season, so I’m re-sharing it today with the name it really deserves, The BEST Pasta Salad.
This recipe was originally titled “Grandpa’s Pasta Salad” because it was 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, which is probably why he loved this salad so.
No ‘kraut nor pickled pigs feet in here, though! Just cooked pasta tossed with chopped pepperoni, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, a delicious spice blend, and zesty Italian dressing which combine to make the most perfect 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 fettuccini but it’s a hard cut to find gluten-free, so use any cut of pasta you like. 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!
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! I used Delallo Gluten-Free Rotini which I love.
Cook the pasta until al dente then run under cold running water until the pasta has cooled.
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 so whip up my Best Ever Italian Vinaigrette to use instead.
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 >
Next, chop up the goodies – 6oz pepperoni, 1 cucumber, and 3 Roma tomatoes. Add everything to a large bowl with a 2.25oz can sliced black olives that’s been drained.
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
The BEST Pasta Salad is a family recipe for pasta salad that's easily made into gluten-free pasta salad. It's the only party, holiday, and cookout side dish recipe you'll need!
- 1lb gluten-free short cut pasta
- 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded then chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded then chopped
- 6oz gluten-free 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 Vinaigrette, recipe link below (or 1 large bottle Kraft Zesty Italian if dish does not need to be GF.)
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool pasta down.
- Add pasta, tomatoes, cucumber, pepperoni, black olives, 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.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I honest to goodness have to remind myself to breathe while eating this pasta salad because it’s 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!
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