One of my favorite things about working from home is getting to eat at home. One of my least favorite things about eating at home is figuring out what to have for lunch. Are you tracking with me? We don’t do very many leftovers in our house, and I prefer to have something quick and easy for lunch. I’ll rotate between wraps, salads, and snack plates (like meats, veggies, cheese, etc.) usually, but will inevitably fall into a rut after a month or so. I recently was reminded on the pasta salad that I grew up eating and decided to make a batch to have for lunches throughout the week. It’s super easy to throw together, can be completely customized to what you like, and is a great side dish or lunch option!
Here’s how I make it
1 lb. cooked penne pasta (or whatever shape pasta you like best!)
1 diced red pepper
1/2-3/4 sliced red onion
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup green olives, sliced in half
1/2 cup diced mozzarella cheese (I just use string cheese sticks!)
1 cup Italian dressing*
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
*I like the Olive Garden dressing (I’ve found in my grocery store) or just our store brand’s version. Use a good dressing that you know you like the flavor of!
Simply toss everything in a large bowl and mix well! The dressing with absorb into the pasta, so I recommend adding a little more than you think you need, so that you don’t have a dry salad. You can always add more dressing just before serving, if you think it needs it!
Important note: these measurements are just approximations – I eyeball everything and add in an amount that looks good. You can easily add more veggies, swap for different veggies, add in sliced salami or pepperoni…the modifications are pretty endless!
Another important note: Don’t skimp on the grated parmesan. (That’s a life motto: never skimp on the cheese). It’s what takes this salad to the next level!
This makes a great side dish during the warmer months (although, I’ll eat it anytime of year!) and will last in the fridge for about 4 days or so! Enjoy!