In my never-ending search for tasty pasta salads, I found an idea for a pizza salad. There were dozens of recipes but I thought I’d be brave and go it alone. I had definite visions in my head, aided by the tiny pepperoni I found in the grocery store. It was so CUTE! I’m not even particularly fond of pepperoni, but these jumped into my cart and came home with me to help me make my new salad.
I like cold pizza, leftover from the night before. I think it’s even better leftover, cold! So making a cold pizza pasta salad wasn’t much of a stretch. I chose a small penne as my pasta and proceeded to cook it to al dente in salted water.
I drained the pasta and put it back into the pot. I measured in 3 cups of tomato juice (actually it was labelled “vegetable juice” so it was more like V-8). I stirred well and let the pasta sit and soak up the juice. I wanted the pasta to be tomato-y flavored and colored. I stirred it occasionally until all of the juice was absorbed.
Next I put in a tablespoon of tomato paste. Tomato juices are good but I wanted a stronger tomato presence. I also added oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stirred well.
Then I discovered I didn’t have sliced black olives, just a large can of whole, pitted olives. Curses. I actually sat down and sliced up every one of those buggers! As I sliced I wondered why they were so greasy feeling. Duh. Olive oil comes from olives! Sometimes my brain doesn’t work real well on the more complicated things in life-like black olives.
Olives sliced, I also sliced all of the grape tomatoes in half. They were much quicker than the slippery olives. I added the olives and tomatoes to my pasta pot along with previously chopped green onions. Woo hoo, this was looking good!
I kept the dressing simple. I added some red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to the pot and stirred well. This was a lot of stirring, I was noticing a few of my penne was starting to break down. Oops! Bad planning. I could have added everything to the pot, then stirred. Will so note in the recipe.
I was pleased with my pizza pasta salad and placed it into a container, put a lid on it, and put it into the refrigerator. I sat down to type out the recipe and finish the blog and realized.. I forgot to add the pepperoni! Well heavens, and it was THE ingredient that started this whole pasta salad circus!
I pulled the container of salad from the fridge and added about 3/4 of the bag of mini pepperoni. Using the whole bag is an option of course but we’re not all that huge on pepperoni. 3/4 of the bag was a lot already. Stirred once again (I know, grrr it’s falling apart) it was back to the fridge so it could meld and play well with each other’s flavors.
When dinner was ready I served the salad with plenty of mozzarella sprinkled over each serving. I hadn’t added it earlier because I wanted the salad to be cold when the cheese was added. Melty cheese in a cold salad would be weird. I added the rest of the shredded cheese to the remaining salad before storing it in the fridge.
I’d made a crockpot of ribs with a new Pineapple Bourbon BBQ sauce to serve with the salad for dinner. But the salad, it was lovely. So very much like eating cold pizza. Pepperoni, black olive, tomato-y penne, cheese, it was a new blend of flavors in each bite. The snap of the vinegar and oil dressing was perfect.
I think I did a great job in my new pizza pasta salad. I learned along the way how to make it more efficiently next time. And there will be a next time, I can’t wait to make this for the grandkids. They love pasta salad and love pepperoni pizza. They should adore this new salad
Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad
1 box pasta (I used penne rigata)
3 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 large can olives; sliced
1/4 cup green onions
1 cup grape tomatoes; halved (or more depending on the sized container; I used them all)
3/4 to 1 package of miniature pepperoni
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups mozzarella; shredded
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and return to pot. Add tomato juice and stir occasionally until all juice is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Add seasonings, tomato paste, olives, tomatoes, pepperoni, olive oil and vinegar. Stir well.
Refrigerate several hours. Before serving, stir in shredded cheese.
Heavily adapted from Chef Messy