I LOVE pasta salad. I took this one to a birthday party recently and I was kinda sad when it was mostly gone by the end of the party because I wanted to eat it all! I love the versatility of pasta salad, you can pretty much throw in whatever you find in your fridge. I have made many variations, but this was the one I made last time and it was pretty tasty. The tricks to a good pasta salad is to 1. use a good dressing 2. add plenty of veggies 3. DO NOT overcook the pasta, it will jsut get softer as it absorbs the dressing 4. rinse the pasta well so it doesn't stick together 5. prepare it at least a couple of hours in advance so the dressing can soak in and the flavors can mix.
Classic Pasta Salad
1 package rotini pasta-the little spirals (I actually used a package that was a mix of rotini, shells, and penne--colored pasta is really pretty in this dish too)
1 bottle balsalmic vinaigrette
1-2 tomatoes finely diced
1 small head of broccoli cut into florets (you can use the stem too if you want)
1/2-3/4 cup chopped carrots (I used about 20 baby carrots)
1/2 can black olives, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (any color) diced
about 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to add salt to the boiling water and do not overcook! Once pasta is cooked, drain, and rinse well. While pasta is cooling, get chopping. Add all the chopped vegetables to the cooled pasta and toss in the dressing. Add the dressing a little at a time until you get the desired amount. I ended up using a little more than half the bottle. Cover and chill until ready to serve. You might want to add more dressing right before serving if the salad seems dry. Toss in the parmesan cheese right before serving.