I confess: I’m all about easy meals when the weather warms up. If I can make things up ahead of time, or if it’s a dish that comes together quickly… perfect! A cold pasta salad is one of my go-to dishes for picnics or for quick dinners, and this recipe is our family’s favorite. The challenge, of course, is the pasta.
We’ve tried a few gluten-free pastas and have been really pleased, overall. Here’s the catch, that I have found: they taste best when they’re fresh. Well it’s not the taste, it’s the texture. Wheat-based pasta lasts for days. Rice pasta delivers on taste – no one will even be able to tell the difference! But overnight, it can start to come apart, which is of course not ideal. So while I’d normally tell you to feel free to make this recipe up ahead and store it overnight, it really tastes the best in the first 6-8 hours or so with gluten-free pasta. You can certainly make it up in the morning on picnic day, or a few hours ahead for dinnertime, but don’t aim for leftovers the way you may be used to with traditional pasta.
- 16-oz box Gluten Free Pasta (if gluten isn’t an issue at your table, you can of course use any pasta you like. We’ve had good luck with Ronzoni brand pastas)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and halved
- 8 oz. diced ham
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup to 1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing
- Boil pasta according to package directions. Rinse in cool water to speed cooling.
- Prepare tomatoes and ham. Add ½ cup Italian dressing to start, and toss to coat thoroughly.
- You may want an additional ½ cup dressing, it depends on your tastes. If you are storing the salad for a few hours before serving, you will likely want to add a bit more dressing at serving time. The pasta will absorb it, which makes for great flavor in a few hours, but can cause the salad to get dry the longer it’s stored.