Well, Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, it’s June, and it’s officially summer. To so many of us, that means eating a little bit lighter. Whenever it got really hot when I was growing up—too hot to turn on the oven or the stove, when a hot meal seemed as unappetizing as anything in the world—my mother would throw a whole bunch of marinated and fresh vegetables in the biggest mixing bowl she could find, along with some pasta and a nice balsamic vinaigrette, and called it what all the other PTA moms did: Palo Alto pasta salad. With some diced cooked chicken or shrimp, it becomes a complete meal! (I happened to use chicken leftover from this rosemary lemon roasted chicken recipe.) It doesn’t get much simpler, or more refreshing, than this satisfyingly flavorful pasta salad. The best part is: you can substitute whatever you like, or whatever’s in your fridge. We should really just call it “Leftovers” pasta salad, but “Palo Alto Pasta Salad” sounds so much better, don’t you think?
- 16 oz. package bowtie or penne pasta
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1½ cups marinated artichoke hearts, or 1 (15 oz.) can
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes in oil, minced
- ½ cup grated Parmesan Romano cheese blend
- ½ cup red onion, minced
- ¼ cup scallions, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
Cook the pasta according to the package directions in boiling salted water. Meanwhile, combine all the vegetables and chicken in a large mixing bowl. Drain the pasta and add it to the mixture, immediately adding enough balsamic vinaigrette to coat all the pasta and tossing to thoroughly combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with minced fresh herbs and additional Parmesan cheese if desired, and serve chilled or at room-temperature.
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Add all ingredients to a mason jar. Cover tightly with a lid and shake until the vinaigrette is completely emulsified. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.