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This mouthwatering Antipasto Pasta Salad is filled with delicious cured meats, Italian cheeses, and marinated vegetables and is perfect for a wine picnic.
Want to know what my most favorite date in the world is? Well, I'll tell you. Do I love fancy restaurants? You betcha. Do I love being wined and dined? Uh huh. But my most favorite thing to do on a date is to have a picnic with wine, cured meats like dry salami, a variety of cheeses, olives, marcona almonds, ice cold fruit like sliced apple or grapes, and a crusty baguette. Whether this picnic occurs on a blanket outside, in a cabin in the woods, or in front of the TV in our movie room - these delicacies make me smile. You know what else is fun? Enjoying a nice glass of wine and all of my favorite foods with a bunch of friends. Think about it - how fun does it sound to spread out a few blankets and enjoy an outdoor concert with a few other couples and a delicious spread of food. The problem is that all the foods that I enjoy most don't always travel well, nor does a bottle of wine. Enter: boxed wine (Black Box Pinot Noir to be precise) and my antipasto pasta salad.
So, wikipedia tells me that antipasto means "before the meal" and here I am turning it into a meal. Are you totally confused? Allow me to explain. Wikipedia also told me that traditional antipasto includes things like cured meats, olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, various cheeses, and vegetables in oil or vinegar. I figured that I would take all of these delicious ingredients and toss them with some pasta and a dressing to make an easy and portable meal. The recipe makes at least 8 healthy sized portions and, what do you know, that awesome little box of wine actually contains the same amount of wine as four separate glass bottles. By my calculations: (equivalent of 4 bottles of wine) ÷ (4 couples) + (8 servings of antipasto salad) - (one wine bottle opener) = a fantastic evening of food and friends.
I used a ton of ingredients in this pasta salad and the combined flavors are outstanding. Some of the ingredients were purchased ready to go and I just chopped them up. For the mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic I chose to roast them myself. It really doesn't take any extra time to do this because while they are roasting, you're cooking your pasta on the stove as well as chopping up all of your other ingredients.
I wasn't sure if I even needed a dressing because once I tossed everything with the pasta, it already had incredible flavor. But pasta is a flavor sucker and its always better to have a little more sauce than not enough. This red wine vinegar, olive oil, and basil vinaigrette was the absolute perfect addition to the pasta salad and it completely held everything together.
I'll never pretend to be an expert on wine. I'm the kind of person who will taste it and can say if its good or not-so-good. I'd love to tell you that I can identify the kinds of flowers that were growing within 20 yards of the vines, or what kind of barrels the wine was aged in, or whether there are notes of smokey alder or dried cranberries, but that is out of my area of specialty. I will tell you, however, that this wine is wonderful and I absolutely love how portable it is as well as how the wine stays fresh because its in a vacuum sealed pouch. Why isn't all wine packaged like this? Considering Black Box has won over 50 Gold Medals for its quality, and it's available for 40% less than comparable bottled wines, and it stays fresh for up to 6 weeks... what's not to love?
This is one of those recipes where I wish I could feed you a bite through the screen. I don't think the photos do it justice. To have all my favorite flavors combined into one bowl alongside a delicious glass of red wine - I'm a happy girl.
Is your idea of a perfect date similar to mine? Be sure to visit the Simple Entertaining Social Hub for more great entertaining ideas!
Now... who wants to WIN A TRIP to the California wine region of your choice? I do! I do! Just click THIS LINK to enter! In the meantime, plan your adult-only picnic and be sure to let me know what you include in your picnic basket along with a box of wine.
Antipasto Pasta Salad
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
- 1 cup basil (stemmed and leaves chopped (about one big handful fresh basil))
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup oil (from marinated artichokes)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms (stems removed and halved)
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound pasta (I used penne)
- 8 ounces salami (artisan salami, sliced thick and then into strips)
- 4 ounces prosciutto (sliced into strips)
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella (I used one container fresh mozzarella marinated)
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives (green and/or kalamata olives, halved and pitted)
- 1/4 cup roasted peppers (roasted yellow and red peppers, cut into strips)
- 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
- 1/4 cup romano cheese (grated )
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated )
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- To make the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic to a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- While the mushroom mixture is roasting, boil a pot of salted water. Once boiling, cook pasta al dente, about 2 minutes short of recommended cooking time. When done, drain and toss in a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside until salad is ready.
- While mushroom mixture and pasta are cooking, cut up all remaining salad ingredients (except for the romano cheese) and combine in a bowl. Once pasta and mushroom mixture have cooled, add to salad and toss.
- Pour dressing over mixture, toss to combine.
- Can be served right away but tastes even better the next day after flavors have developed.