A good-quality bottled Italian dressing can be used if you're not wanting to make the homemade vinaigrette. I always reserve a little of my dressing for right before serving. I find that it's nice to have a little on reserve to moisten everything back up - especially if the salad is made a day in advance.
FOR THE SALAD -
16 ounces pasta (I prefer rotini)
1/4 - 1/2 pound pepperoni (I buy a chunk from the deli and cut it into cubes)
1 can black olives, drained
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 bell pepper (mine was red), cut into small slices or diced
Handful of radishes, cut into half-moon slices
1/4 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer the Italian Basil variety)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
FOR THE DRESSING -
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 - 3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Once pasta is cooked (do not overcook), drain well and run cold water over pasta in colander until noodles are cool. Pour pasta into a large mixing bowl. Add in all of the salad ingredients. (Wait to add the cheese until just before time of service.)
Combine the dressing ingredients in a large Mason jar. Shake vigorously until vinaigrette is well combined. (This task can be done in a blender, as well. Or, the dressing can be whisked together in a medium mixing bowl.)
Pour most of the dressing over the salad - reserving about 1/4 cup. Stir to coat.
Store in an airtight container. Salad can be made a day in advance.
At time of service, pour on the remaining dressing and stir to coat salad. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on salad.