4 cups cooked small pasta (I've used both small shells and elbow macaroni)
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (See *Note)
6 cups chopped mixed salad greens (again, I use whatever varieties I have on hand - but always something leafy and colorful)
2-1/2 cups chopped red cabbage
2 carrots, well-scrubbed then coarsely grated
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1 cup sliced green olives (adds the saltiness of cheese; I have also used diced, canned hearts of palm)
1/2 cup olive oil (or preferred oil; see *Note for reduced fat substitution)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad:
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Run under icy cold water to chill quickly, then drain well.
Meanwhile, combine all of the remaining salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add the cooled and drained pasta.
Drizzle the prepared dressing over the salad, then toss gently until well mixed.
For the Dressing:
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, then blend until smooth.
Recipe by LuAnn Bermeo, loosely based on a Portillo's restaurant salad, as featured by The Girl Who Ate Everything.