Baking with Olivia and Caroline

Summer Pasta Salad a la Connor

By Published On: June 27th, 2024

This pasta salad is the BEST pasta salad recipe! You know why? Because I got to make it with Caroline, my daughter, while visiting her and her boyfriend, Connor, for the weekend with my eldest daughter Claire. If you follow our Instagram, you know that Caroline moved away last October. Since then, we have been creating our recipes via FaceTime, phone chats, texts, and emails. 

It was so wonderful to be reunited and have everyone chip in to make this salad. Connor was in charge of the pasta, Caroline was the chief chopper and the creator of this recipe, I was the videographer/photographer plus dishwasher, and Claire was there to grab ingredients as needed. 

You know how everyone has that one dish they love that nobody makes better than that one particular person? It could be your grandmother’s pasta sauce, or your mom’s chocolate cake, or maybe nobody can grill a steak like your dad. Well this is Connor’s dish. Connor grew up eating a version of this pasta salad. His grandmother, or MiMi, would make it special for him. She makes hers for the family with olives, which he doesn’t care for, so she would always make a big bowl specifically for him without them in it. According to him, the recipe is not to be altered. Pasta salad of this kind is only to be made with the staples: pasta, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cheese, red onion, and pepperoni/salami. No peppers, no feta, no chickpeas; it just wouldn’t be the same. Of course you can add olives to this recipe, but this is the way it’ll stay for Connor. 

Nothing tastes better than nostalgia! 

Dressing ingredients

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tbs white wine vinegar
4 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
2 tsps honey
2 tsps dried oregano
2 cloves grated garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pasta salad ingredients

1 lb fusilli pasta or pasta of your choice
4-5 mini cucumbers, halved and sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 1/2-2 cups cubed salami or pepperoni
1 1/2 -2 cups cubed cheddar cheese 


Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl or mason jar with a lid. Stir or shake well. Dice, chop, and slice vegetables, cheese, and salami and add to a large bowl.

Cook pasta per package directions (make sure you salt your water). Drain pasta and add to the vegetable, cheese, and salami mixture. Pour dressing over the pasta and vegetable/cheese/salami mixture (save a little bit to add later after the flavors have time to marry). Toss well to coat and cover. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, garnish with fresh chopped parsley and additional salt and pepper (optional). As always, enjoy! •

Olivia and Caroline are enthusiastic foodies and bakers who are constantly in the kitchen, as well as explorers who create their own adventures in our area – and did we mention they are mother and daughter? Follow Olivia on Instagram to see her many creations at @oliviawvalentine.