Spring fever has definitely hit our household and I am having so much fun coming up with new ideas for outdoor meals! One of my favorite ways to add a fresh twist on any meal is to add a salad. There are a countless number of combinations! Classic tossed green salad (jazzed up with just about any topping you dig out of the fridge or pick up at the farmer’s market), tossed roasted vegetable salad, pasta salad, potato salad, the list goes on and on. I believe the key to any great salad is a classic, flavorful dressing…and I’m going to give you my favorite. This is my take on my husband’s take of his dad’s classic Italian dressing. It’s simple, tasty, and it literally works with any salad combo you can imagine up. And as with most of my recipes, add more or less of which ever ingredients you like!
About 1 cup EVOO
1 TBS Italian Seasoning (I prefer to go heavy on this!)
1/2 TBS Garlic powder (And this!)
1/2 TBS Pepper
1/2 TBS Salt (My husband and father-in-law alllllways go heavy on the salt! In fact, they both add in another mystery salty ingredient, but I promised not to share all their secrets! Although, this is probably why it tastes so much better when they make it! That and the fact that anything someone else can do for me now-a-days is a good thing!)
About 2 cap fulls of Red Wine Vinegar
Whisk all ingredients together or add straight to the filled salad bowl and toss. Mangia! Mangia!
This traditional dressing will be sure to compliment any salad perfectly. As a tip, when I am making pasta salads, dress the pasta while it’s still warm. It will absorb the flavor of the dressing better and your kitchen will smell delicious!
One of my favorite pasta salads is a fake-out on a local Italian catering company. I can’t always get there when I’m craving it and as we all know, buying prepared foods can get expensive quickly! You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck with this recipe.
Italian Pasta Salad:
1 cup tri-colored orzo (or plain orzo, or ditalini, whatever small pasta you have in the cupboard will do!)
1/2 cup Craisins
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pignoli nuts (Simply add to a dry pan over medium heat, tossing frequently until toasty and fragrant. Pignoli nuts also make for a great cookie if you have leftovers! Invite me over if you make some!)
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata (this soft crumbly cheese is like Italians version of feta. If you can’t find it, Parmesan will work just as well but will have a bit of a stronger flavor.)
1/2 cup-1 cup of my classic Italian dressing
Cook orzo according to package. Once orzo is drained toss with dressing. You may want to add a little extra EVOO, the orzo will absorb a lot and you want to make sure it doesn’t stick all together! Pop in the fridge until cooled. Once the orzo has cooled, toss with the remaining ingredients and enjoy there and then or have portions for all week! The longer it marinates, the better it gets 🙂
Well Foodies, I hope I’ve inspired some fresh and healthy meals with my simple and delicious classic dressing recipe starter. Sometimes, all it takes is a little inspiration to get the juices (and dressings!) flowing! What’s the tastiest salad you can create this spring? Whatever it may be, I hope you’ll be enjoying it outside with some sunshine and good company. Happy Spring!
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian