My favorite thing to do on a Friday afternoon is leave work, collect my boys, grab some groceries, and plop down on the back porch with a beverage and an easy dinner.
By Friday, I’m ready to relax! Sometimes that means going out to dinner, but for me, there really is nothing better than not having to leave the house for the rest of the night, not having to fight traffic and crowds, and not having to wait for my meal.
My back porch is a work in progress. I have a chiminea for fires, my two grills (charcoal and gas), solar lights, my potted herbs, and a semi-comfortable (like I said, “work in progress”) table and chairs set. It’s my favorite place to be in the evenings. When the weather warms up, I add a misting fan to keep the air moving and to keep us cool.
April nights are the best for porch parties, as we call them. You can even prepare this salad in advance, and then the work is complete for the evening. To make it a little hardier, you can add grilled, chopped chicken.
Italian Pasta Salad
10 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
5 oz mini pepperoni, or equivalent weight chopped pepperoni or salami
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (3.8 oz) can black olives, drained
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup jarred mild yellow banana peppers, chopped
1 cup Italian salad dressing
8 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
sea salt and pepper, to taste
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to shock the pasta into stopping the cooking process and to help prevent sticking. Cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl, combine pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, red onion and banana peppers; toss with cooled pasta. Add the dressing, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and cheese; toss gently to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving; serve chilled.
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 799, Fat: 52 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 1588 mg, Carbohydrates: 51 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 36 g.
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