1 (16-ounce) package pasta, your choice (such as bowtie, corkscrew, penne, or rotini)
Grape (small) tomatoes, cut in half
Cooked ham, cubed
Hard Salami, sliced in strips
Roasted red peppers, sliced in small strips
Fresh snap peas or snow peas, ends trimmed off
Marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped into smaller pieces
Green olives, sliced
Water chestnuts, sliced
Havarti cheese, cubed
Smoked cheddar cheese, cubed
Salad Dressing (see recipe below)
Prepare pasta according to package directions. In a colander, rinse the cooked macaroni with cold water, drain briefly so that the macaroni remains moist, and place in a large bowl. Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.
In a pan of boiling water, blanch the asparagus and peas for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the peas turn bright green. Remove from heat and transfer to an ice water bath until cool, and then drain in a colander. Chop the asparagus and snap/snow peas into bite-size pieces.
Toss together the pasta and all the prepared salad ingredient; set aside.
Prepare the Salad Dressing of your choice (see below). Toss the prepared salad dressing with the pasta salad.
Always serve pasta salads at room temperature so the flavors will really shine. If you must refrigerate the salad, make sure to return it to room temperature before serving. The dressing usually soaks into the pasta when store. So, if serving later, you may need to add a little extra salad dressing right before serving.
Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing:
If you want an easy store-bought dressing, I recommend Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing for a nice mild flavor that does not overpower the salad. Otherwise you can use this delicious recipe below using 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar if you would like to make your own dressing. Also check out Linda's Balsamic Vinaigrette.
2/4 cups olive oil (or oil of your choice)
1/4 white wine vinegar
Coarse salt and coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
Place the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of your blender. Process until fully combined. Let stand for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Whisk together right before serving.