This beautiful appetizer consists of an Italian chopped salad that is mounded into cooked pasta shells. It can be made up to four hours ahead and the romaine salad will remain crispy for serving. Note: To give proper credit, this is an adaptation of Italian Chopped Salad in Shells, which uses chicken as a main ingredient. In the version I am posting, the chicken is eliminated and the chopped salad is garnished with salami and feta cheese. I also make my own vinaigrette, but if you prefer, just use a bottled Italian dressing.
- 8 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 24)
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomato
- 3⁄4 cup chopped peeled cucumber
- 3 ounces italian salami, chopped
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
- 1⁄8 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook shells in plenty of boiling water according to package directions, being careful not to overcook them. Rinse in cold water; set aside. (For advance prep tip, see note at end).
- Chop all salad ingredients, making sure you have all the pieces quite small so that you can easily stuff the salad into the shells.
- Make dressing; pour over salad and toss lightly. Add salt and pepper if desired.
- Stuff salad into cooled shells (now you will understand why you chopped the ingredients into small pieces!).
- Refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.
- Advance preparation tip from a reviewer: "The day before, I cooked the shells to al-dente, rinsed them in cool water, separated them and let them cool. Then, I put them in a ziplock. I chopped everything for the salad part and put it in a ziplock, without the dressingl. The next day, I mixed the dressing into the salad and stuffed the shells. Worked like a dream.".