Greek Pasta Salad

      In honor of my friend and fellow blogger, the Housewife's safe return from Greece, I am sharing this fast and easy Greek pasta salad recipe. Michelle and I have spent hours talking about traveling together to foreign soil, but so far our trips abroad have been with others.
     This time she went without me and returned home with pneumonia... feel better soon. I'm now glad I stayed behind. Maybe next year, when she is finished planning the wedding of the year, and I am the proud mother of one college graduate, time to embark on an adventure together will finally come.
     But enough about dreams and wishes... back to the recipe. You can add things that you like or omit things I like and you don't... its just that simple.
     I have added other Greek salad ingredients in the past, such as julienned ham, pepperoni, and mild pepper rings to make this a meal. I have also converted it into an Italian salad by changing the ingredients a little. Omit the feta, add fresh little mozzarella boccini or crumbly ricotta salata.

1 pound pasta, cooked and rinsed, reserving ½ c. pasta cooking water
1 pound grape tomatoes, washed and halved
1/2 c. (or more) pitted Calamata olives
1/2 c. roasted red pepper, sliced4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 T. fresh basil leaves, julienned
1 c. baby spinach leaves
Pepperoncini, additional basil and olives for decoration

6 T. olive oil
2 T. balsamic, red or white wine vinegar
2 T. sweet hot mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 t. dried, Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and shock in cold water to stop cooking process. Toss pasta with tomatoes, olives, red pepper and feta.  Pour mixed dressing over salad.  Mix well.  Chill or serve at room temperature. Just prior to serving, mix in the basil leaves and fresh spinach, as it wilts quickly. A small amount of reserved pasta water may be added if salad seems dry. Place in large bowl. Decorate with a clump of basil, pepperoncini and olives.
 Remember our motto: Be Brave, get into the kitchen and get creative...

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