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PANZANELLA PASTA SALAD

With warmer weather, I mentally list what pasta salads I will add to my repertoire. This one was a try-out at Easter brunch and ended up being such a hit that everyone split up the leftovers to take home. It could even be a main dish paired with soup, muffins, or something similar for four people.


The only important detail to note is adding the toasted bread chunks just before serving so they stay crisp with just the slightest sponginess. If making ahead, plan on adding them when you are ready to eat. They'll go mushy if they sit in the dressing for a few hours.


Notes: Olive oil is extra virgin. The bread is a sourdough demi baguette.


PANZANELLA PASTA SALAD

Ingredients: 16 ounces short pasta such as macaroni, 8 ounces hard salami, scant 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, 1 medium red bell pepper or 6 minis, 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, 2 cups arugula, 2 cups bread chunks, 2 tbsp. butter.

Garlicky Lemon & Olive Oil Vinaigrette: Zest and juice of 2 lemons, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tbsp. dried oregano, 1 tbsp. dried basil, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper.


Serves 6-8.


1. Cook the pasta/Prep ingredients: Cook the pasta in salted water to just al dente (with a definite bite), then drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. While the pasta drains, chop the hard salami, bell pepper, and Kalamata olives. Melt the butter in a skillet pan over medium and tip in the bread chunks. Stir until toasted to your liking, then remove to cool.


2. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified well.


3. Assemble salad: In a large, deep bowl, tip in the pasta. Add the peppers, salami, olives, Parmesan, arugula, and toasted bread chunks over the top. Toss. Drizzle over the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.


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