Trying to come up with food that is child friendly and still interesting for adults can be a problem when you're planning a birthday party menu. Last week when Abby and I were deciding what to prepare for Maggie's party, I remembered this pasta salad that my friend Diane told me about. She promised that it was well received whenever she served it.
Let's just say that excluding the cake, it was the biggest hit on the table. The children and the adults alike just inhaled this stuff. I heard exclamations such as, "My child is so picky! I can't believe she is eating that!!" And I had several requests for the recipe.
I've had my share of pasta salad. Some are good; others are so-so. Some are downright bland. This one is the best I've had. The pesto makes it unusual. Super simple to assemble, it's easy to make ahead and store in the refrigerator until party time. It consists of six ingredients: pasta, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, black olives, pepperonis, and pesto. That's it. Diane uses bow tie pasta; I used shells, in keeping with the beachy theme.
I wanted to buy the tiny little pepperonis because they were, you know, cute. However, Abby squelched that suggestion in a hurry. "Mom, they're twice the price per ounce as the regular pepperonis." I trained her right. So I opted to cut the pepperonis into quarters which only took about 2 minutes. If you want to go vegetarian, omit the pepperonis. Incidentally, Diane often serves this at dinners for international students, many of whom do not eat pork. So, she substitutes turkey pepperonis.
Unquestionably, the leftovers are just as delicious. We took what was left to the beach the following day and shared with Brad and Hannah. If we weren't the loving, considerate, unselfish family that we are, we'd have been knocking each other out for the last morsel.
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 lb bow tie or shell pasta, cooked and drained
- 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- 1 can black olives, drained and cut in halves
- 1/2 of a package of pepperonis, cut in quarters
- 1- 8 oz. jar pesto
Mix all together in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for several hours.
This recipe will be on the short list for lunch around here. Served with fruit on the side, it really can be a meal all by itself.