About nine out of ten times that I’m asked to bring something to a potluck and I ask what the host would like me to bring, this is the request I hear, “Wouldya mind making that one salad?”
This is the salad people do not forget. It doesn’t matter if they had it years ago when I made it for someone’s bridal shower, or several summers back when I made it for a barbeque. They remember it, they ask for it, they want it.
Here’s the thing about this salad…it’s easy, it’s pretty, and it will make you the hero of any get together. I’ll share it with you because I’m just that kind of person, you know, generous, giving, and all that stuff. I just have a heart of gold. Well, and I’m thinking maybe you’ll all get sick of this salad and let me make something else for a change!
I do have to admit, it’s pretty dang eye-catching for a simple pasta salad.
This one you see here is the “non-chicken” version. I made it this way because we were having it with burgers and dogs when we grilled out in the backyard with our good friends the Smuins this weekend. If you want to make it a main dish for say the church picnic or neighborhood social, all you have to do is shred up a rotisserie chicken and add it to the mix.
You start out by boiling 2, 20 ounce packages of refrigerated cheese ravioli in water that’s been heavily salted. Cook the pasta for about seven minutes being sure not to overcook it. You can find this ravioli in the deli section of any grocery store and any brand is fine. I think mushroom ravioli would be tasty in this too.
Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water.
Toss the pasta with about 1 cup of Italian salad dressing. Use a good brand for this dish because it’s the main flavor you’ll taste in the salad.
You’ll want to toss the pasta with dressing as soon as you drain it to prevent the ravioli from sticking.
Wash a pint of grape tomatoes and slice them in half on the bias.
Drain and rinse two 8 ounce containers of mini fresh mozzarella balls. Cut these on the bias as well. If you can’t find mini mozz balls, just cut up a pound of fresh mozzarella into one inch chunks. Just make sure it’s the fresh kind and not the kind that comes in the block. That’s OK for your pizza but not for this dish.
Combine the tomatoes and cheese with the pasta and dressing by folding them in with a rubber spatula. The ravioli tears easily, so don’t over stir.
Take a big bunch of fresh basil and bring it up close to your nose. Sniff in that beautiful, earthy basil sent…ahhh. Don’t touch it on your nose of course or no one will eat what you bring to the potluck-please! Pull off about 20 large leaves and 20 small leaves. Leave the small leaves whole. Stack up the fresh leaves and roll them into a tube. Cut them across to form a chiffonade.
Add the basil to the salad and toss again gently. Add more dressing. I usually end up using about 3/4 of a standard bottle of dressing for this salad, but it is to your taste.
It’s best if you can refrigerate this salad for a couple of hours before serving to let the flavors meld.
If you find it’s too dry when serving, just add more dressing.
Garnish with freshly ground pepper and a basil sprig.
Prepare to hear oos and ahhs when you set this down in front of your guests. It is a welcome change from potato, macaroni, or Lord forbid-frog-eyed salad-bleck!
I hope everybody has many a picnic, potluck, barbeque, get-together, social, or whatever kinda gatherings you like this summer. Those long, balmy nights don’t last, so make the most of them with those you love.
That’s what havin’ yourself a time is all about!