Last summer I threw some serious bashes, including a 70th birthday party for my father-in-law, and a big outdoor wedding shower for my sister. At both of these parties, there was a new star of the buffet, and it wasn’t the fried chicken or the cupcakes. No, it was my new Costco secret that I am now prepared to share with you: A three-ingredient pasta salad that is so good I have made it over and over again since.
This three-ingredient wonder came to me while browsing Costco for party-shopping. I picked up the Kirkland Five Cheese Tortelloni (it’s a favorite of my kids, too). I grabbed some cherry tomatoes, as they are endlessly useful and appealing. And then I saw the Kirkland Artichoke Hearts and it all came together.
The brilliant thing about these artichoke hearts is they are marinated in olive oil with spices and herbs. That marinating liquid? BOOM it’s your pasta salad dressing.
To make the pasta salad: Cook a full package of the tortelloni. Then slice a couple pints of cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise so they look prettier, are easier to spear with a fork, and to allow their juices to mingle a bit more with the salad. Then drain the artichoke hearts over a bowl (save the oily marinade!) and cut them up, slicing them in half lengthwise so they are bite-sized. Toss all this in a big bowl and add enough of the artichokes’ marinade to coat and flavor the salad. That’s it!
This pasta salad could be improved further by a few little things, if you have the time: You could add a squeeze or two of lemon juice to the dressing. You could make it more visually appealing by adding some shredded fresh basil or shards of Parmesan. I have also considered adding mozzarella balls, but that seems like gilding the lily.
This makes a huge quantity — enough for a dozen people at least — and it holds very nicely in the refrigerator for several days; the flavors just mingle and improve. I’ve made it for an easy weeknight dinner and leftovers became a lunch-box basic.