Italian Picnic Pasta Salad; Menu of the Week

Long, long ago in a place far, far away I made a pasta salad for our family reunion.

This was an annual event in the old, Mid-Western tradition of family reunions, with aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, grandparents, grandkids, first, second and third cousins, two and three times removed.

A moment to pass on a totally tedious bit of information:

One is the first cousin to the children of one's parent's sibling.

One is the first cousin once removed to the children of one's first cousins

One is the second cousin to the grandchildren of one's grandparent's siblings.
       Or put another way….

One's children are second cousins to one's own first cousin once removed.

Just thought you'd want to know.

Back to my family reunion: Each year over 100 people attended, ranging in age from newborn to well over 90.

I had only been attending as an adult (meaning I had to bring 'a dish to pass') for 3 or 4 years.

It's inevitable at these events that one year there will be 10 potato salads, lots of fried chicken and no baked beans; the next year will be nothing but baked beans and cole slaw.

My pasta salad was the only one.

I was so happy.  I remember thinking: Whew, got this one figured out.  I'll just make pasta salad every year and not worry about it.

The next year there were 15 pasta salads.

In honor of the big holiday weekend in the US – and maybe a bit (of holiday) leftover for Canada, here is my favorite picnic salad…. for the second time, but it's worth it!

Italian Picnic Pasta Salad

Italian Picnic Pasta Salad

6oz (200gr) sliced, hard salami
1 red onion
1 cup green olives (or Greek dry-cured, kalamata, whatever you like) I used 1/2 green and 1/2 Greek
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
2 ribs celery
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 green bell pepper or any color
2 cups bite-size pasta, farfalle, elbow macaroni, fusilli, shells
1 tbs olive oil
Italian Vinaigrette

Cook pasta according to package instructions. When done, drain, put into a large bowl (or back into the cooled pot) and toss with olive oil.
Slice celery 1/4" (.5cm) thick, cut cherry tomatoes in half, and chop pepper. Add all three to pasta and toss lightly.
Cut salami in half or into quarters. Peel and quarter the onion then slice thinly. Clean mushrooms and slice. Cut olives in halves or thirds. Put salami, mushrooms, onions and olives into another bowl and add vinaigrette. Allow to marinate, at room temperature, for 1 – 3 hours.
Before serving add marinated vegetables to pasta and toss to combine. If not serving immediately, refrigerate to chill.

Italian Vinaigrette

1/2 tbs Dijon-style mustard
2 tbs white wine (tarragon) vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
5 tbs olive oil, the good stuff
1 tsp snipped fresh chives
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley

Place mustard, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Slow add olive oil, whisking constantly, to combine. When all oil is in and emulsified, add herbs.

week of July 2 we have Cold Beef, Ham and Cheddar Picnic Loaf, Classic Caesar Salad, Grilled Scallops, Cucumber Salad, Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Seeds….  

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7 thoughts on “Italian Picnic Pasta Salad; Menu of the Week”

  1. Its too early in the morning to work out relationships Katie. My brain is not in gear yet but the pasta salad sounds great. Of course July 4th tomorrow we are going out to lunch and I am taking Ina Garten’s Deep Dish Apple Pie. Is that American enough?

  2. Pam, it’s my favorite…..
    Gilli, I’m mowing lawn – you’re celebrating more than we will LOL
    Val, but most of them bought it at the deli…..
    Tanna, they were fun…. mostly!

  3. At least your family didn’t all bring jelly salads with multi-coloured marshmallows and grated carrots floating in them.
    J’adore pasta salad!! Good idea to put rhinocerous meat in! (That is what the hard salami is made from, isn’t it?)

  4. Elizabeth – how do you know? Lime jello with floating bananas was always a favorite. And there was always mayo to put on the one with grated carrots – it was a Jello Salad

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