Bring a large, heavy pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the pasta and return to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook pasta according to the package directions, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Donνt overcook!
Using oven mitts or pot holders, drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, pouring away from you. Rinse with cold water until the pasta is cool and allow to drain in the sink for 10 minutes.
Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl.
Toss with the remaining ingredients, stirring well with a large wooden spoon.
If desired, add optional ingredients (below).
Serve at room temperature or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: About 10 cups, serving 10 to 12
Other cheeses, such as goat cheese and feta cheese
Chopped black olives
Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Cooked and drained white beans or green peas
Red or green bell peppers, chopped, sliced, or roasted
Thinly sliced red onion