It seems to me that somewhere around Memorial Day, when we dust off the grill and break out the flip flops, there’s really no turning back. It’s all backyard BBQs and pool parties until fall. Not that I’m complaining, but, it’s unlikely that you’ll be showing up to one of these shindigs empty handed.

Now, it’s time for the nerd in me to speak up. The term potluck was derived in Sixteenth Century England from the phrase “luck of the pot,” which at the time basically meant “we’ll eat whatever there is to eat.” In other words, it  was sort of a grab bag philosophy on dinner. If the neighbors were suddenly over for dinner and a meal needed to be prepared in a flash, then this term would apply. But, across the pond and five hundred years later, potlucks are absolutely not spur of the moment, and in fact are usually planned well in advance.

I am well versed in potluck planning, because my co-workers are absolutely not shy about food.That guy’s wife is having a baby?  Someone’s retiring? It’s Tuesday? Potluck time! It’s safe to say that we have them quite regularly – so I can’t possibly show up with the same boring casserole every time, right? Right.

This recipe is light and refreshing, will evenly balance any other heavy side dishes or desserts, and is insanely easy to prepare. It’d be the perfect side at any summer soiree or namely, any upcoming Independence Day bash.

*Note: Bocconcini are simply bite-sized fresh mozzarella nuggets. You can find them in the specialty cheese section at most supermarkets. You will also need a food processor or blender for the dressing.


Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

4 tablespoons parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup packed basil leaves, sliced into ribbons

1 pound rotini pasta (I used whole wheat)

fresh mozzarella cheese, preferably bocconcini

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

salt and pepper to taste

optional garnish: additional basil, parmesan cheese, or lemon juice


Cook pasta and drain. While pasta is cooking, blend the first five ingredients in a food processor. It should have a similar texture to pesto. Add in half the basil leaves and mix again. Spoon over cooked pasta and mix well. Mix in cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill overnight and garnish as desired.