Saturday, February 26, 2005

Jessie's Chunky Antipasto Salad

-sausage or cheese stuffed tortellini (cooked)
-mozzie cheese (cow or buffalo) cubed
-thick sliced salami, quartered (whatever variety you like, but get it from a deli so it is sliced fresh)
-1 tall jar roasted red bell peppers, oil drained
-2 tall jars pickled mixed vegetables, Italian style, drained
-3 cans artichoke hearts in brine, NOT marinated, drained and rinsed
-1 jar mushrooms, 1/2 oil or water reserved
-1 can medium black olives, drained and rinsed
-1 jar sundried tomatoes, drained or 1/2 oil reserved (I didn't use these in mine but they would give a nice taste)
-fresh garlic, diced, to taste

-reserved mushroom liquid-oregano--however much you like (I used about 2 Tbls worth)-pinch sea salt-marjoram--about 2 Tbls worth
-choice Italian herbs; (a "sprinkle" or about 1/2-1 Tbls) these could include garlic powder, onion powder, basil, thyme, etc.)
-reserved tomato liquid (optional)
-1/4 C. to 1/2 C. red wine vinegar
-mashed garlic to taste (I use 2 cloves worth)
-1 C. olive oil (approximately--use more or less to taste)

1. Cook pasta al dente, erring on the side of underdone. Drain, rinse. Dump in really big bowl.
2. While pasta is cooking, mix together all dressing ingredients in medium bowl, save the oil. You want a medium sized bowl so you can whisk wildly without spilling. Whisk in oil, bit by bit, until blended. Set aside.
3. Add cubed cheese, quartered salami, peppers, vegetables, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, and garlic to the pasta. Stir it all up until evenly distributed.
4. Get really crazy with the whisk again and blend the dressing. Let rest for 2-3 minutes, then whisk like mad again.
5. Pour the dressing over the salad. Stir it up really, really well.
6. Refridgerate at least 8 hours before serving. Ideally, you'd make this 24 hours before serving.

***The ingredients are all approximate. Don't hesitate to taste at various stages along the way (with a clean spoon) and adjust accordingly.
***The pasta salad ingredients are totally dependent on what you like. Adjust quantities to your taste and don't be afraid to add. Chickpeas, rotini pasta, and/or sauteed diced onion would be good ingredients too.
***This salad, because it's all approximate, will taste different every time you make it. That's fine. As you make it more and more, you'll get a feel for what makes it really, really good, and yours.

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