Lemony Italian Pasta Salad is a quintessential salad recipe to have this spring combining Rigatoni pasta noodles, pepperoni, ham, grape tomatoes, red onions, quality black olives, green olives, sliced sweet peppers, Romano cheese, and a delicious homemade lemony Italian Salad Dressing.
Every Italian-American family has their own version of pasta salad, there really is no specific recipe for a traditional Pasta Salad, only many variations, depending on on-hand ingredients in each Italian-American household
One of the most important ingredients in the pasta noodles, I can not stress enough to you; cook pasta until it is al dente, firm to the teeth yet tender. Many Americans cook pasta until it is too soft, a minute or two less of cooking time then the directions on a package will give you authentic Italian pasta.
Another key to making perfect pasta is to use a large cooking pot, better yet a pasta pot if you have one and plenty of salted water; this will stop the pasta from sticking to the bottom or each other and will also ensure every inch of pasta will be cooked through perfectly.
Using only the freshest ripe produce will also be a major key in your pasta salad, I normally recommend using produce from a well-known farmers market that stocks organic produce if possible.
Quality deli meats are also a must if you are including pepperoni and ham in your Lemony Italian Pasta salad, better yet I used leftover ham I cooked myself on Easter in my recipe today. If you do not have leftover ham I would definitely recommend using Boar’s Head Deli meats if you can find them in your area.
Lemony Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 Pound of Rigatoni, cooked al dente
- 6-8 ounces Boars Head Pepperoni slices
- 1/2 cup of diced homemade leftover ham, or Boar’s Head Brand
- 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red salad onion, thinly sliced
- 15-20 quality deli black olives, drained
- 10-15 quality stuffed green olives, drained
- 5 sweet peppers (mini sweet peppers), sliced
- 1/4 of a cup of quality Romano Cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 recipe for Lemony Italian Dressing
- extra Romano cheese, for serving
- Cook 1 pound of Rigatoni pasta in a large pasta pot filled salted boiling water till al-dente – about 10 minutes.
- Drain and rinse pasta in cold tap water, drain the pasta of excess water.
- Place Rigatoni pasta In a large glass serving bowl, add sliced pepperoni, ham, grape tomatoes, thinly sliced red salad onions, deli black olives, green stuffed olives, sliced sweet peppers, Romano cheese, fresh chopped Italian parsley, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Toss all the ingredients gently, but thoroughly.
- Use the desired amount of Lemony Italian Salad Dressing and toss salad again to evenly coat.
- Cover Lemony Italian Pasta Salad, place in refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
- Serve with extra Romano cheese, if desired.
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