Italian Pasta Salad

I was on a cooking spree this weekend. I had so many plans, that I didn't get to everything.  However, I managed to make this, which happens to be one of Justin's favorite pasta dishes.  It's great for a quick lunch or as a side to something else.

This versatile pasta salad has been a hit whenever I bring a bowl of it to a pot-luck. It's mayonnaise-free so food-poisoning chances are slim.

Also, you can change up the additions, say roasted red bell peppers are one of your favorite foods.  Go ahead and add some!  Change up the cheese.  I used Colby-Jack this time.

1/2 pound shaped pasta, like rotini or fusilli (corkscrew-shaped pastas)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon water
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, or Colby-Jack) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 ounces sliced hard salami, cut into julienne strips or cubes
1/2 cup sliced pickled small pepperoncini
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, minced
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained (optional)

1. Cook the pasta according to package, until it is al dente tender and drain.

2. In a blender, blend the garlic, mustard, vinegars, water, oil, and salt (to taste) until the dressing is emulsified.

3. In a very large bowl, toss the pasta well with the dressing and stir in the other ingredients.

4. Chill the salad, covered, for 1 hour. The salad may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled.


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