Italian macaroni salad is a perfect accompaniment for picnics and potlucks because it is perfect for serving a large crowd. The macaroni salad consists of a variety of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, bell pepper and olives, which are very nutritious and this is undoubtedly one of the best ways to indulge yourself in some healthy eating.
On top of that, the fresh mozzarella cheese and the salami add a very nice flavor to the dish and make it really very attractive for kids and non-vegetarian food lovers.
So, this pasta salad is a complete power packed meal for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. But if you want to prepare it just for vegetarians, omit the salami and you will be good to go. On the contrary, omitting the cheese makes it a perfect hearty and healthy meal for vegans as well.
So, even if your kids are not very fond of vegetables, you can keep them indulged with the goodness of the salami and the cheese. Finally, the sweet and sour salad dressing imparts very nice notes to the salad and helps it gain great attention in a crowd.
Difficulty level: Easy
Time needed for preparation: 12-14 hours
Time needed for cooking: 5-10 minutes
2 salad tossing spoons
1 wire whisk
1 large mixing bowl
1 sharp knife
1 large salad bowl
1 plastic or steel colander
1 medium sized bowl
3/4th pound of uncooked macaroni pasta
2/3rd teaspoon of dried basil
2 cups of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
2-3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon of crushed dry oregano
A large handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups + ½ cup of garbanzo beans
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
2 cups + ½ cup of salami, sliced
2 cups of red tomatoes (diced)
1 cup + ½ cup of black olives, thinly sliced
For The Salad Dressing
2/3rd cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
A pinch of salt
5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of pure honey
1. Fetch a large bowl and drop the garbanzo beans in it. Top the beans with enough water to cover them up entirely and then rinse them by rubbing them with your hands.
Once thoroughly rinsed, discard the dirty water and fill up the bowl with fresh water. Once done, set aside the bowl and allow the beans to sit in the water for 12-14 hours. Once the time elapses, remove the salami from the refrigerator so that it can thaw. Let the salami thaw for 40-45 minutes or until it becomes pliable and then slice it up into thin pieces.
2. Next, take the onion and cut it in half vertically. Peel off the skin of the onion and then dice it up into small pieces after chopping off its tip and basal plate. After that, put the green bell pepper and the tomatoes into a colander and rinse them thoroughly under slow running water.
Once done, pat dry the rinsed bell pepper and the tomatoes with paper towels and then drop them on your counter. Fetch a sharp knife and cut the bell pepper in half. Extract out the seeds, veins and the core of the bell pepper and then dice it up into small pieces.
3. Next, take some tomatoes and dice them after removing their seeds so that you get 2 cups worth of diced tomatoes. Follow that by slicing the black olives thinly. Once all the vegetables are chopped, take a large pot and fill it halfway up with water. Place the pot on the hob and set the flame on high by turning the knob.
Wait for the water to come to a boil and then add a generous pinch of salt to it as soon as the water starts boiling vigorously. Once that happens, dip the uncooked macaroni pasta into the boiling water to cook it for 4-8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through but remains firm to the bite.
4. In the meantime, take the cheese and cut it up into small bite sized cubes. Follow that by peeling and mincing the cloves of garlic. Finally, take the fresh parsley and chop it finely. Once everything is ready, take the garbanzo beans and discard away the water from the bowl by tipping the beans into a colander.
Rinse the beans by tossing them around with your hands or with a sprayer and then let all the water drain away from the colander. In the meantime, take a medium sized bowl and put the honey in it. Then slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil and the red wine vinegar over the honey.
5. Follow that by squeezing 2 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice over it and then finally season the dressing with a pinch of salt. Whisk the mixture either with a spoon or a wire whisk, until the honey thoroughly mixes up with the other added ingredients.
Once done, set aside the dressing and then check the pasta. If you are ready with the pasta, carefully tip it into a colander to drain away the cooking water and then let the pasta sit in the colander for 1-2 minutes, so that the entire water can run out of the colander.
6. Once done, transfer the pasta into a large salad bowl and then add the diced onion, salami slices, diced tomatoes, minced garlic, olive slices, red bell pepper slices and the garbanzo beans to the cooked pasta.
Toss the salad lightly to mix everything and then add the dried oregano and the dried basil to it. Finally, add the cubes of mozzarella cheese to the salad and then drizzle the dressing over the entire salad.
7. Lastly, add the finely chopped parsley and then toss the salad to coat all the ingredients nicely with the dressing. Once done, season the salad with desired amounts of salt and ground black pepper and then toss it lightly once more to mix the seasonings.
Then either serve the salad right away or store it in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours before serving it up. Storing the salad in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours helps the flavors to intermingle and penetrate all the vegetables and the cheese, thus making the salad taste better.