If you’re cooking for a crowd sometime then here’s a beauty.  Hearty, cold, loaded with flavour and full of nutritional goodness, this pasta salad ticks all the boxes during our hot summer months and those daring during the winter.

Be prepared for people wanting to know the recipe if they haven’t seen it here. I wish I could claim this recipe but it comes from the 1993 Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Cooking for Crowds’ Cookbook.  

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve made it, often with tweaks. Pine nuts are expensive so I substitute with slivered almonds and sometimes I use bocconcini in place of mozzarella cubes. The salad lends itself to lots of types of herbs, mix it up with fresh basil, parsley, garlic chives. As for the dressing, it can be used with many different salads and once you try it you will use it again and again. Add it to your party smorgasbord; promise – you won’t be sorry.

Ingredients:

500gm bow tie pasta

4 bacon rashers

2 medium red capsicums

1 cup (110gm) drained sun-dried tomatoes, not ‘semi-dried’

1tbsp olive oil

250gm mozzarella cheese, chopped into even cubes

250gm cherry tomatoes, halved

130gm toasted pine nuts

5 finely chopped shallots

1 bunch finely chopped parsley

Torn basil if desired

Dressing:

80mls olive oil

2tbsp white vinegar

1tsp raw caster sugar

1tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 large clove garlic, crushed

2tsp French mustard

Method:

  • Add pasta to pan of boiling water; boil uncovered till just tender (do not overcook); drain, rinse briefly under cold water; drain well.
  • Slice bacon, capsicums and sun-dried tomatoes into thin strips. Heat oil in pan, add all three ingredients; cook stirring till capsicums soften slightly.
  • Combine pasta, capsicum mixture, cheese, herbs, tomatoes & cheese in large bowl.
  • Combine all dressing ingredients; whisk well.  Add to dressing.
  • Stir nuts through salad just before serving; use large serving spoons to mix salad well. 
  • Salad can be made a day in advance; keep covered in fridge till required.

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