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I love summer and I especially love summer salads!  There is nothing like a refreshing chilled salad on a hot summer day!  Growing up we always had a pasta salad as part of our summer meals.  My grandmother would make it.  My mom would make it.  My aunt and my cousins would make it.  Everyone would put their own unique spin on it and make it their own way.  I think that’s what I really like about this particular recipe.  There is nothing really carved in stone.  You can pretty much add whatever you want!

While the recipe below is a basic pasta salad, make it your own by adding different vegetables or proteins.  Some examples you could add are sliced spanish olives, garbanzo beans (chick peas), different cheeses (such as provolone), or Hearts of Palm.  I love Hearts of Palm.  They have a very similar texture to artichokes, but they are quite bland.  The one thing I love about hearts of palm is that they really take on the flavor of whatever you add them to.

But, the basic recipe below is sure to be a hit at any summer barbecue.  Enjoy!

Pasta Primavera

1 lb. vegetable/tri-color pasta
1 can sliced black olives
1 large jar (about 15 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts (including marinade)
1 jar (about 15 oz.) roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
4 mozzarella cheese sticks, chopped  (for a healthy alternative, use “Light” cheese sticks)
1 bottle Italian Dressing (for a healthy alternative, use Fat Free Italian Dressing)

1)  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well and let cool.
2)  In a large bowl, combine black olives, marinated artichoke hearts and liquid, chopped roasted red peppers, and chopped mozzarella cheese.  Mix well.
3)  Add cooled pasta and mix well.
4)  Add 2/3 of the bottle of Italian dressing and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
5)  Before serving, mix up the pasta again and add remaining Italian dressing if the pasta is a little too dry.