I love fresh basil. Lots and lots of fresh basil.
What did I do with my basil this week? I made pasta salad, to go with barbecued sirloin tips and fresh asparagus.
Very easy recipes, all. They just need a little bit of prep work in advance.
The pasta salad recipe will fill a very large party-size bowl. It's a family favorite and the leftovers are very welcome by my family of five. You could halve the amounts of ingredients, or omit any ingredients that you don't like.
Barbecued Sirloin Tips
- 2 1/2 pounds of sirloin tip steak, trimmed and cut into 3" cubes
- 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
Favorite Pasta Salad
- 12 to 16 oz box Rotini Primavera
- 1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix*
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar*
- 3 tablespoons water*
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil*
- 1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced into quarter-moons
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 can jumbo pitted black olives
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
- 10 slices genoa salami (from the deli), sliced into ribbons
- 1/4 lb rosemary ham (from the deli), sliced into ribbons
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, drained, preferably ciliegine (if larger sized, cut to bite-sized pieces)
- 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
*Or substitute 8 to 12 oz. of your favorite Italian dressing!
May be done up to 24 hours ahead of time: prepare pasta according to package directions. Cook just until al dente. You don't want the pasta to be soft and mushy. Make sure it still has some bite, because it will absorb some of the dressing.
While the pasta cooks, prepare the dressing. I make my dressing in the cruet that comes with the multi-pack of dressing, which has convenient little lines for measuring the oil, vinegar and water.
If you don't have the cruet, don't sweat it--just prepare according to package directions.
Drain your pasta into a colander. I then place the colander over the pot I cooked the pasta in, and fill the pot with cold water (to stop the pasta from cooking so it doesn't get mushy).
Swirl the pasta around in the cold water, lift up the colander to drain, and put the pasta into a very large bowl.
You can see that twelve ounces of pasta looks very lost way down in the bottom of my 4-quart bowl. Helloooooo down there!
Don't worry, the remaining ingredients will fill the bowl up in no time.
Just don't use an aluminum bowl, the acid in the vinegar can react with the aluminum and produce a metallic taste.
The ingredients that I have listed are just what I had on hand this time. They are just a suggestion of what to put in the salad. If you don't like what I have listed, leave them out! In the past, I've added fresh tortellini or mini ravioli, diced red and green peppers, shredded carrots--whatever you happen to have on hand or will make your family happy is what you should use!
The only ingredients that I say you have to use are pasta and an Italian dressing that your family loves. My family happens to love Good Seasons dressing.
However, if you make this pasta salad for your next party, and if you use all of the ingredients that I listed, I promise you the salad will be amazing!
If not, then my friends and their families have been lying to me all of these years. There are some parties where I don't think I would have been allowed through the door if I didn't bring my pasta salad.
Shake your dressing to mix it well and pour half of it onto the pasta. Toss. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together and marinate it as well.
I made my pasta about 3 hours ahead of time. You can even do it the night before. It needs a good chill. Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients.
I also prepped the sirloin tips ahead of time.
I trim any excess fat from the sirloin tips and cut them into equal-sized chunks (about 3" square). This will ensure even cooking.
The meat on the right has already been prepped.
Next, pour the barbecue sauce over your steak.
Mix it well, so that all pieces are coated.
I don't know if the barbecue sauce would also react to an aluminum bowl. I never use aluminum bowls.
Refrigerate the steak for at least an hour. You could also prep it the night before.
You've already done the time-consuming part. Now it's just chopping and tossing the salad and grilling and flipping the meat.
Preheat your grill to medium/low heat.
Gather your salad ingredients.
Go put your meat on the grill. Set the timer to check it in five minutes.
I only used half of the cucumber, but you can use as much or as little as you like.
Quarter it lengthwise, then slice it. Toss it into the bowl with the pasta.
Roll your salami up into little tubes.
Slice the tubes and you'll have little rolls that will unroll into ribbons when you toss them in your salad.
Add them to your salad bowl.
Same with the ham. Roll 'em.......
.......and slice 'em.
You can use any type of ham that you like. I like rosemary ham.
Go check on the steaks. If they look like they're cooked on the bottom, and the tops are started to cook around the edges, time to flip 'em.
Set the timer for 4 minutes to remind yourself to go check on the steaks again.
Open the can of olives, drain 'em, add 'em to the salad.
Open the can of artichoke hearts, drain 'em, add 'em to the salad.
Or if you're like me, and you have whole artichoke hearts instead of quarters, slice them into quarters yourself.
Wash and drain your grape tomatoes, add them to the salad.
Go check on your steaks. They should be just about done. If they have a minute or two left, turn the grill off, shut the cover and go inside and set the timer for 2 minutes so you don't forget about them.
Drain your little mozzarella balls, they should be packed in water or brine. If you have the ciliegine, they will be about the size of the olives and tomatoes.
If you're like me and only have a large ball of fresh mozzarella on hand, cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Add them to the salad.
Stack about 12 large leaves of basil and slice horizontally to shred them.
All together now, in your loudest kindergarten voice: ADD TO THE SALAD.
Go remove your steaks from the grill.
Get your now-it's-all-filled-up very large bowl of salad ingredients.
Add the remaining Good Seasons salad dressing and mix well. You may want to mix up another batch of Good Seasons dressing in case anyone wants to douse their salad with extra deliciousness.
Serve and enjoy!