Pasta Salad with Arugula and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I’ve been eyeing up this recipe for quite sometime now and decided that it would be great to serve at our 4th of July cookout. The peppery arugula and the sweet sun dried tomatoes really balance out nicely with the tangy dressing. If you make this ahead of time, you will need to freshen it up with a few drops of red wine vinegar and olive oil. The other thing I would recommend would be to wait and add the arugula until you are ready to serve. If added to early, the arugula will begin to wilt from the vinegar dressing. You could even change up the cheese, instead of using provolone, I think feta would go nicely. What’s fun about pasta salads is that you can create or change things to your personal taste.


Pasta Salad with Arugula and Sun Dried Tomatoes:

  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, patted dry and minced
  • 2 tbs minced red onion
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 ounces arugula (about 2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tbs minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove minced to a paste*
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Toss the sun-dried tomatoes, onion, 1 tbs of the vinegar, and 1/4 tsp salt together in a large serving bowl; set aside.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tbs salt and cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to cool and drain again thoroughly. Add the cooled pasta, arugula, provolone and parsley to the bowl with the vegetables and toss to combine.
  3. Whisk the remaining 2 tbs vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic, and red pepper flakes together until combined, then pour over the pasta salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
*To make garlic into a paste… Mince the garlic and then sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Scrape the blade of a chefs knife across the garlic, mashing the garlic into the board. After a few scrapes, the garlic will turn into a sticky paste.

Italian Pasta Salad

I made this pasta salad for the bridal shower I catered several weeks back. I can’t even begin to stress how easy it is to make and how versatile it is. You can put whatever veggies you want in it; asparagus, mushrooms, cucumber, green onions, yellow squash, etc… I made it so it was vegetarian friendly, but you could add diced ham, pepperoni or salami, if you want.  Try feta cheese instead of cheddar or mozzarella. It’s better made a day ahead of when you want to serve it. I like to keep a little extra of the dressing on the side, so when I’m ready to serve, I toss it with a tablespoon or two of the dressing to freshen it up. I also don’t add the tomatoes till ready to serve, if added to early they won’t taste fresh.

This is a basic pasta salad recipe, take it and add what you want to make it your own.


Italian Pasta Salad:

  • 2lbs Pasta (any shapes you want)
  • 3 small zucchini, diced small
  • 2 red or green bell peppers, diced small
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 can black olives, drained
  • 1 8oz block cheddar cheese, diced small
  • 1 8oz block mozzarella cheese, diced small


  • 1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs water
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  1. Boil pasta according to package directions, till Al dente. Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking, set aside.
  2. In a very large bowl, whisk together the Good Seasoning, vinegar, water and lemon juice. Continue to whisk and slowly pour the oil, till combined.
  3. Add the pasta and all veggies but the tomatoes, to the bowl with half of the dressing, mix to combine; reserve the leftover dressing.
  4. Once the pasta has cooled down, add the cheese and refrigerate till ready to serve. Before serving, add tomatoes and a tablespoon or two of dressing to freshen up the salad.

Source: Gina Marie

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

As I sit here and watch the snow come down; I think about the summer and all the glorious fresh vegetables that come with it. Someday soon it’ll be summer and the fresh tomatoes will fill my house. Until then, I must find ways to make the icky winter tomatoes taste good. This salad is one of those ways. This recipe is not a throw together kinda salad. There are a few steps that must be done but it’s all worth it in the end. It’s very important to let the tomatoes and cucumbers sit for a good 15-30 minutes with a bit of salt. It helps drain the unnecessary liquid and gives it a great flavor. When I make this again, I will only add half a can of the chickpeas. I felt there were way too many and it sorta drowned out some of the other flavors. My husband on the other hand loved all the chick peas, so it’s up to you on what you want. Make this salad now while it’s bitter cold and snowy. It’ll make you smile knowing that summer is right around the corner. In the meantime, I might have to whip a batch of cinnamon rolls since the kids and I are stuck home.


Mediterranean Chopped Salad:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cucumber (I used English and didn’t peel), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed (I’ll use half next time)
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup  minced red onion
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart (about 6oz), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3oz)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  1. Toss the tomatoes, cucumber, and 1/2 tsp salt together in a colander and let drain for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Whisk the oil, vinegar and garlic together in a large bowl until well combined. Add the drained tomatoes and cucumber, chickpeas, olives, and onion and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the lettuce, feta and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Tortellini Pasta Salad

This week is going to be a slow post week. With the holiday behind me I am starting to gather myself back up and focus on getting back in the kitchen. But I do have a wonderful dish to share with you.

I got this recipe from a dear friend of mine, Cory. Awhile back his wife had posted on facebook about this awesome tortellini pasta salad he makes. Of course I had to get the recipe and see what the fuss was all about. The first thing that caught my attention was the use of tortellini instead of plain pasta. What’s great about this recipe is that it’s best made a day ahead of when you want to serve it. You can also change up the vegetables used, I didn’t use green onions but I think they would be wonderful in it. I used balsamic vinegar since it was the only one I had on hand. But Cory says he uses either red wine vinegar or balsamic. Next time I plan on trying it with the red wine vinegar to see the difference of the two. When Cory told me that the dressing is very important and to make a lot of it, he wasn’t kidding. Since you make it a day in advanced, the pasta really soaks up the dressing and takes on a lot of flavor. Don’t skip on the dressing and it wouldn’t hurt to maybe even double it and add more the next day if you wanted. The only thing I omitted from Cory’s recipe is the olives. I am keeping it in the recipe because I feel they would add a wonderful flavor, but most of the people I was serving it to do not like olives. Sad, I know.

Tortellini Pasta Salad would be perfect for your New Years Eve bash or NCAA Bowl Game watching parties. I’ll be working on a few dips this coming weekend to enjoy while we cheer on Penn State in the Outback Bowl. I’ll get those posted as soon as I can. Enjoy!

Tortellini Pasta Salad:

  • 2 large packages multi color tortellini.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1-2 cucumbers, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1 Package grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large jar of pitted calamata olives
  • 2 packages of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan


  • 1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup vinegar, balsamic or red wine
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs water
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  1. Boil tortellini in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook! Drain, and put into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the Good Seasoning, vinegar, water and lemon juice. Continue to whisk and slowly pour the oil, till combined.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl with the tortellini and drizzle over the salad dressing. Stir till everything is combined. Refrigerate at least 1 day before serving.

Source: Thank you Cory for a great recipe!

Gina Marie’s Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those fixtures that screams BBQ’s and family gatherings. Throughout the years I’ve learned a few tricks to make a great potato salad. First, there is no need to add tons of ingredients to a potato salad, it’s all about the potatoes. If you add too many things to it you will lose the potatoes and what’s a potato salad without tasting the potatoes? Second, the way you cook them and mix them up are a huge part of making a terrific potato salad. I’ll go through some key steps…

1. Do not bother washing or cutting the potatoes. Drop them in a huge pot of cold water and get boiling. Once they boil, turn it back a bit and cook them till they start splitting.

2. Mix your mayonnaise and spices together BEFORE adding to the potatoes. This will make a difference. The more you mix your salad the more your potatoes will break down and become mush. Mixing up the mayo before hand helps you not overmix.

3. Use a secret ingredient. My secret ingredient is what I use in my ribs, Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.

Follow these steps and your potato salad will be a huge success.

Gina Marie’s Potato Salad

  • 5 lbs Russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs mustard
  • 1 tbs Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
  1. Put uncut and unwashed potatoes into a large pot filled with cold water on high heat. When water starts to boil turn down to medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes start to split.
  2. Drain and let cool till they are easy to handle. (you want the potatoes to be a little warm)
  3. With a pairing knife, remove the skin from the potatoes and dice into 1/2 inch pieces and add to a big bowl along with the onions.
  4. In a separate small mixing bowl mix together the mayo, mustard, creole seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasonings to your likeness. (If you like it really saucy, add more mayo and adjust the seasonings accordingly)
  5. Add the mayonnaise mixture and parsley to the potatoes and stir till combined. Chill for at least 4-5 hours and serve.

Source: Gina Marie Original

1905 Salad

I love salads and next to a Caprese Salad, this is my top favorite. 1905 Salad is a Columbian Restaurant favorite. This is my families version of their salad. My Aunt Sue taught me how to make this when I was around 12 or 13 and I’ve been making it ever since. The original version has ham, olives and uses swiss cheese. I don’t put the ham or swiss cheese in mine, but you could add it to yours. If you can’t find fontinella cheese, swiss will be a fine substitute. Fontinella cheese is what I think makes this salad. You can find it around the gourmet cheese section of your local grocery, it’s shaped like in a wedge and Stella is usually the brand.

The salad goes great with any Italian dish or makes a great lunch. I could eat this anytime!

1905 Salad

  • 1-2 heads of iceburg lettuce, chopped (I usually use 1  1/2 head of lettuce. All depends on their size)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium size tomatoes, large dices
  • 8 oz Fontinella cheese, grated on large grater
  • 1 cup Italian Salad dressing ( I use Wish Bone) You can add more than a cup, if needed
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbs worchestire sauce
  1. In a large bowl, add lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
  2. Pour salad dressing over the top and squeeze half the lemon and add the worchestire sauce. With salad tongs, mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.