Saturday, April 24, 2010

Antipasto Pasta Salad, America's Test Kitchen Way

I recently bought The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook and I have bookmarked a lot of recipes. To be honest, I didn't bookmark this particular recipe, because it didn't fully grab my full attention...


The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
...until last weekend, when I caught an episode of American's Test Kitchen, and watched as the salad was prepared on their show. I was intrigued about a few techniques they used-- and then I realized that I had most of the pantry ingredients. My son, who has moved home with us again, exclaimed "that looks so good, mom", as we watched the episode together.  Those green eyes, with thick lashes batted at me-- and I knew I was destined to make this.  This salad takes a few steps to prepare, but I have to say that each step was worth the effort.  Let's begin:

The choice of meats from ATK are pepperoni and soppresata (or salami).  My husband and son love pepperoni (I don't, particularly) so I stuck with that. Here's ATK's Tip #1-- we're about to quickly cook the meats in the microwave to prevents the salad from becoming greasy. I like this!


Arrange pepperoni in single layer on paper towel. Cover with another paper towel and layer sopresatta on towel. Top with another paper towel and microwave on highest power until meat begins to render fat, about 1 minute. Set meat aside. I have drained a 12-oz jar, each, of roasted red peppers, and pepperoncini. I love pepperoncini, and they're a great condiment to add to a sandwich-- and that's why I usually have a jar on hand. I like to roast my own red bell peppers, but once in a while I buy them in a jar for a quick shortcut.

 Per ATK's recommendation, I used provolone cheese, grated.  According to America's Test Kitchen, tasters preferred strong aged provolone cheese to milder cheeses, especially when grated into the salad for even distribution.Who's to argue with them? Timing is everything, with this salad, so the dressing comes next:

The ingredients are simple-- red wine vinegar, a little mayonnaise, garlic, olive oil, and some of the reserved juice from the pepperoncini. Of course, I'm going to add the red pepper flakes, because I've learned to add just the right amount for a little bit of kick.   So, now that prep work is done and it's time for pasta:

Campanelle pasta is one of my favorites to cook with.  Cook your pasta, according to package directions, until al dente.  The mushrooms (I'm still remembering how tasty these were, as I type this)...

Clean and quarter the mushrooms.  You're going to reserve 1/2 cup of this dressing to toss onto the hot pasta.  You'll bring the remaining dressing to simmer in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and are lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

 
Transfer to large bowl and cool.  At this point, I could have just eaten the entire bowl of mushrooms!


In fact, I'm going to make just the mushrooms for a tasty Friday Happy Hour snack. But, back to the pasta salad...  drain the cooked pasta and return it to the pot.  ATK's Tip #2: adding vinegar and dressing to hot pasta will help the flavors to absorb faster (I do this when making my German potato salad).

Drain the pasta, return to pot, and toss with ½ cup dressing and the remaining vinegar.

Adjust seasonings, spread dressed pasta on rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes (truthfully, I let it cook to room temperature and it was fine).   It's time to bring all of the prep work and steps together to create the finished product.  Fresh basil! Yes, that's important. I have fresh basil in my garden and I look forward to these plants flourishing as the temperatures get warmer.

Add meat, provolone, roasted red peppers, chopped pepperoncini, basil, and cooled pasta to mushrooms and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

 As Christopher Kimball usually says, "so there you have it".  It's quite colorful, don't you think?

TASTING NOTES: Since I'm not a big fan of pepperoni, I found that flavor to be a little too dominant for my own personal taste. However, my husband and son loved this recipe.  They thought the pepperoni ratio was just right for them-- so adjust according to your personal preference. I picked out the mushrooms and ate them with great relish, they are that good.  This salad is hearty enough as a main dish, but could also be a side dish. From start to finish, this salad took over an hour to prepare. I would definitely make it again, especially for a potluck. It's flavorful, colorful and I think it would be a big hit.

The printable recipe for this delicious salad is at the bottom of this post. This recipe was originally printed in the October 2007 issue of Cook's Country, which I also subscribe to.

Enjoying my weekend in the kitchen,








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30 comments:

Susan said...

I tend to stay away from pasta salads because of the calories, but I think you have found a winner here. This will be on the 'to try' list.

Karen said...

This is my kind of salad - looks really good. I'm not a big fan of pepperoni, either.

Diana H said...

It looks delicious. Campanelle is one of my favorite pastas. All those nooks and crannies to catch the sauce.

Carla and Michael said...

I do love a good pasta salad and this one looks and sounds well worth the time. I also love some of the tips ATK has pre-tested to better a recipe for us.

À LA GRAHAM said...

You know I am obsessed with this cookbook if you've been checking my recipes lately. There are so many awesome recipes in it!
I had this one marked and so glad to see you made it...looks so good...perfect for a picnic!

Stacey Snacks said...

Perfect for our Friday night Antipasto nights Deb!

bella said...

I love America's Test Kitchen recipes and subscribe to all of their pubs....I love pasta salad despite my Italian family believing that pasta salads are not authentic Italian food, plus I also love pepperoni, and so, Debby, this must be a winner! Thanks for posting it! Roz

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

What beautiful photos of the ingredients and finished salad. Your photos sure caught my eye!

Sandi said...

That looks wonderful.....I love antipasto!!

Big Dude said...

That looks absolutley super

Bellini Valli said...

This does sound like a winner so you may just see it all over the blogosphere soon.

Kate said...

Looks tasty! I enjoy pasta salads.

Marguerite said...

Would love me some Antipasto Salad! Looks divinely delicious and I can't wait to try it! Beautiful pics and presentation, too!

Cathy said...

Wow, this looks like a winner, Debby. I'm like you and would cut back on the pepperoni, but everything looks scrumptious. Those mushrooms have my mouth watering. Thanks for the tips

Kathleen said...

Wow this looks amazing!!!

Monica H said...

This is colorful and I love that curly trumpet pasta- -pretty!

I happen to love pepperoni in amy form so I'm sure I'd love this.

Kim said...

I wish I could watch the ATK shows. For some reason we don't get that channel. I hear really good things about their shows. My husband would love this pasta salad, it's so meaty:D It looks gorgeous Debby and yes, it would be fantastic for a potluck!

Debinhawaii said...

This looks really delicious--so colorful and fun and perfect for potlucks or BBQs. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays! ;-)

Pam said...

Wow - what a fantastic pasta salad!

TKW said...

You know, I'm not a big pepperoni person either. I will make this with smoked turkey, I think. Looks delicious! I can't wait to see what that green-eyed charmer is going to sucker you into making next!

Mother Rimmy said...

Colorful pasta salad, and terrific pictures!

smilinggreenmom said...

Oh this takes pasta salad to a whole new level! The photos are beautiful :) I must make this using our fav pasta from Kamut! I cannot wait to try it for my sister's cookout in a few weeks, yay!

Mary said...

This is a really glorious summer meal. I love the colors. As a matter of fact I like everything about the dish. You found a real winner to share with us. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Muneeba said...

Oooo Debby, are u liking that cookbook? I've had my eye on it for a while now ... but my only wish it that they would have more imagery in there ... I'm a very visual person! So this antipasto salad is something I'm lovin!

Belle on Heels said...

ohmigosh, yum, yum, YUM! the boy's family is italian on his mom's side and he is absolutely going to LOVE this!

lostpastremembered said...

YOu really walk us through the recipe brilliantly... wish all cookbooks did so well!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a gorgeous salad. I don't normally make pasta salads, but I like everything in this one. I'll be trying this one soon.
Sam

Me, Myself and Pie said...

Wow. This recipe had me at the pictures of pepperoni!

Eileen @ Passions to Pastry said...

This salad looks wonderful! I tend to make a lot of pasta salads this time of year when I'm busy outdoors planting my vegetable garden. I make early in the day and so are there for me when I'm hungry and ready to collapse with a glass of wine!

Micah - Coffee machine said...

This salad made me hungry. I love the mixture of pasta and pepperoni!