I like there to be more veggies than pasta in my salad. My son-in-law dices the vegetables about 1/4 inch. Add Minced or diced ham and slivers of pepperoni for more of an Anti Pasto or Main Dish salad. Also we have dairy allergies so there's no cheese in this feel free to sprinkle on the Parmesan or toss in some cubes of Mozzarella.
Serves 12 (if they have other stuff to eat; 6 as a main dish)
8 ounces of shaped pasta (white, tri-color, or whole wheat) cooked al dente, rinsed in cool water, and drained
4 - 5 cups chopped mixed vegetables (broccoli, celery, tomatoes, green onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, sweet onion, cucumber, zucchini, artichoke hearts, etc.)
1 - 1 1/2 cups Olives (I usually just drain a can of medium or large black olives, but sometimes we get a few fancy olives from the olive bar. We've put the green ones with the pimento in the salad also.)
Put all this in a BIG bowl. We use the big green Tupperware bowl that holds about 6 quarts.
For a dressing We like a vinegarette.
3 - 4 tablespoons Red Wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 - 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 - 4 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon dried Basil (or a big handful or fresh leaves)
1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary (or a tablespoon or three of fresh)
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon (more or less to taste) Salt
The mustard, vinegar, and spices including garlic go in a blender. Blend until there's nothing left but liquid then stream in the olive oil. Keep blending until it's all the same color.
You can vary the spices and the vinegar. Go ahead and use a bottled dressing or Good Season's (you need two Good Season's for this salad)