One of my absolute favorite pizza spots is Lucali in Brooklyn. They have an open kitchen and you just drool while you watch your pizza getting made. BUT, they have another item that I love just as much, if not more: their house salad. It’s ridiculously simple, yet so unbelievably good - crisp lettuce, tomatoes, onions and loooots of dressing. That's it. They purposely overdress the salad too, leaving you with tons of red wine vinaigrette to dip your pizza crust in. The first time I had it, I beggged Mark (owner/chef) to give me the recipe (and lucky for you, it's now online!). Since I can’t always eat it with pizza (I mean, I could...but I can’t), I wanted to make one that’s a bit more filling. I added all my deli favorites (salami, turkey, pepperoncinis) and pasta, and came up with this Lucali-inspired salad. It's super creamy from the mozzarella and tortellini, but you still get a nice bite from the red onion and pepperoncinis, and juiciness from the tomatoes and olives. Just make sure to make extra sauce! You’ll want it on everythinggg.
1 (9-ounce) package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
1 cup good quality olive oil, plus a bit to keep the pasta from sticking
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
3 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
½ small red onion, sliced
2 ounces salami slices, cut into strips
2 ounces deli turkey, sliced
3 tablespoons sliced pepperoncini peppers
2 tablespoons pitted black or kalamata olives
1 small head iceberg lettuce, cut into chunks
Italian bread, for dipping
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and toss a bit of olive oil to prevent from sticking.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Remove and reserve ½ cup of the dressing, then add the cheese, tomatoes, and onions to the bowl and let them marinate on the counter for 15 minutes (up to an hour on the counter, or up to 24 in the fridge!).
Add the pasta to the tomatoes and onions along with the salami, turkey, pepperoncini, olives, and lettuce. Toss to coat, season with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve with extra dressing on the side to dip your bread!