I invented this on a Sunday night when I felt like something new. I love the Italian chopped salad at McAlister’s Deli, so I was thinking about that as I started, but I like how it ended up even better if I do say so myself. Its distinctive flavors still go together well. It makes a HUGE amount, so I quickly realized I’d need to share and took most of it to work the next day. I was pleased to find I didn’t even have to try to find a spot in the fridge for it again when I went to put it away at the end of lunchtime since it had all vanished – yay!
The best part about this recipe, as I face down a 99 degree afternoon, is that it requires no cooking except quickly boiling the tortellini, and it’s served at a nice chilly temp. This is filling enough to be your dinner or a hearty side or appetizer. ~Robin
Buitoni three-cheese tortellini, 1 20 oz. bag
2 medium cucumbers, chopped
½ red onion, diced or thinly sliced (about a cup, sliced)
2 c. of tiny tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size (I love Sunset’s Wild Wonders Gourmet Medley for their variety of colors, but you can snag any grape or cherry tomato variety as well)
1 c. sliced Kalamata olives (could use green olives too, but I love Kalamata olives)
About 4 c. of baby spinach (stems removed)
2 c. hard salami, cubed into ½ in. chunks (about 10 oz. by weight)*
2 c. provolone cheese, cubed into ½ in. chunks (about 10 oz. by weight)
1 c. Ott’s creamy Italian dressing
Black pepper, fresh cracked, to taste (optional)
Prepare one package of tortellini according to package instructions, except do not add any olive oil – it would make it harder for the dressing to stick to the pasta later. Drain very well and set aside to dry further and cool.
Once pasta is cool enough and well-drained, add all other ingredients except tomatoes, black pepper, dressing, and olives; then mix. Add tomatoes, olives, pepper (if desired), and dressing, gently tossing until mixed well and salad is coated with dressing throughout. Chill & serve.
*My deli counter sliced the salami and cheese into ½ inch thick slices so I was able to simply chop it into cubes from there…big time saver! This salami from the deli is SO much better than the lunch meat slices you may have been tortured with by a well-meaning relative as a child. I thought I didn’t like salami all my life, but it turned out I just hadn’t had the right salami. Give salami a chance! Unless you’re one of our vegetarian friends, in which case you can save a couple bucks instead. 🙂