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Summers Perfect Pasta Salads

Family Features | 4/18/2013, 5 p.m.

It's summer . . . time for carefree, fun-filled days and casual entertaining. So whether you're picnic-bound, heading to a bring-a-dish potluck, or simply dining al fresco on the deck, Antipasto Pasta Salad is the perfect choice.

"Brimming with the ingredients and flavors of an Italian antipasto platter, this crowd-pleaser is both hearty and healthy." says Marlene Koch, R.D., author of the New York Times bestseller, "Eat More of What You Love." Koch created this colorful, flavorful recipe with summertime and easy entertaining in mind. She suggests pairing it with grilling favorites such as chicken or pork, or simply serving it as a meal on its own.

Start by creating your dish with Dreamfields Penne Rigate, which is a premium quality pasta with a healthy difference. It's made primarily with durum wheat semolina, which gives it delicious taste and al dente texture. Plus, a special fiber-protein blend provides unique properties that result in a lower glycemic response after a meal when eating Dreamfields as compared to traditional pasta.

The pasta, cooked al dente, is tossed with a medley of mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers and fresh basil. Reduced-fat provolone cheese and light salami round out the Italian-inspired ingredients.

Dressed with a simple homemade Dijon-garlic-oregano vinaigrette, it's a winner, and ready to serve in under an hour. Plus, Koch shares her secret for adding a flavor boost; she briefly marinates the mushrooms and artichoke hearts in a small amount of the vinaigrette while the remainder of the salad is being assembled.

For the best flavor and texture, prepare the salad the same day you plan to serve it. Buon Appetito!

For more pasta salad recipes and a chance to win a case of Dreamfields in the Third Annual Pastapalooza promotion, visit www.TryDreamfields.com/PastaSalad.

Antipasto Pasta Salad
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

1/2 box Dreamfields Penne Rigate
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained and quartered
4 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese
2 ounces sliced light Italian salami
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
Basil sprig, optional

Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water until completely cooled; drain again. Place in large bowl; set aside.

For dressing, whisk together dressing ingredients in small bowl.
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Place mushrooms in medium microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Cook on High 1 minute, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Uncover; pour off any liquid. Add artichoke hearts to mushrooms; toss with 2 tablespoons dressing and set aside.

Stack provolone slices; cut into eighths to form triangles. Stack salami slices; cut into quarters. Add to pasta along with red peppers.

Stack basil leaves; roll up and slice into very thin strips. Top pasta salad with basil, marinated mushrooms and artichokes. Whisk dressing again; add to salad and lightly toss. Garnish with basil sprig, if desired.