WFMW - Spicy Super Summer Pasta Salad

This recipe is adapted from an America's Test Kitchen recipe for Antipasto Pasta Salad.  We saw their Pizza Party episode that featured this pasta salad last year and decided to give it a try...we liked the first version fairly well and with a few more tweaks, it has become one of our absolute favorites.  It's extremely customizable, so it can work for a myriad of different occasions. We've had a full day (who am I kidding, week) - I have pics to upload, but it just isn't looking good tonight - I'll try to add them tomorrow!

Without further adieu - Spicy Super Summer Pasta Salad

  • 8 oz turkey pepperoni (we like turkey because it's lighter & much less greasy)
  • 12 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 12 oz jar sliced pepperoncini (reserve 2 tablespoons juice)
  • 12 oz jar roasted red peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I sometimes use just 3)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb pasta - we typically use elbow macaroni

Bring water to a boil & cook pasta according to package directions.

While your pasta is cooking, mix the dressing:  whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mayo, pepperoncini juice (just 2 T, however you can add more to kick up the spice a bit more), garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

When the pasta is cooked through, drain & add to the dressing.  Do not rinse the pasta - the heat of the pasta will help it to absorb the dressing & add a depth of flavor to the pasta.

Drain the pepperoncinis &  roasted red peppers - give them a coarse chop & add them to the bowl.  (After making the pasta salad a few times, I have started pulsing them several times in my food processor as it's quicker for me than chopping them by hand...either method works, it's totally preference!)  If you have time before the pasta cooks through, you can add them to your bowl before the pasta...I've done it both ways, it usually depends on how much is going on while I'm making the pasta salad.

Add the turkey pepperoni to the bowl & stir it to incorporate all the ingredients & to cover everything evenly with dressing.

You can either serve the salad warm (I like it that way, Brad doesn't) - or you can refrigerate & serve it once chilled.  We think it's even better the next day.  In lieu of the pepperoni, grilled chicken is also wonderful & turns it into more of a meal.  Just before serving we like to shave parmesan cheese & add it to the mix.  Cashews make a wonderful addition on the side.