Recipe Review

I Tried the Viral Grinder Sandwich — But as a Pasta Salad — And It’s Next-Level Delicious

published Jul 15, 2022
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Credit: Justine Lee

Long before I was posting food content on Instagram and TikTok, my time on the internet was spent playing Lilo & Stitch: 625 Sandwich Stacker. The goal was simple, albeit ambitious: Save the falling ingredients by catching and stacking them into the tallest sandwich imaginable. Failure to execute meant your edible tower collapsed. Me personally? I rarely faced such defeat. Not to brag, but you’re talking to a reigning champ of Sandwich Stacker! 

With that said, it might shock you to learn that these days, I’m not a real-life sandwich maven. I prefer to leave it to the pros at delis and specialty shops. But when I saw that food blogger @foodsofjane had revamped the grinder — the TikTok sensation and one of my favorite sandwich varieties — into an easy-to-make pasta salad, I became curious. Could the Sandwich Stacker skills from my former life finally come in handy?

How to Make Grinder Sandwich Pasta Salad

Making this pasta salad couldn’t be easier. Here’s how to do it.

  • Prep the ingredients. Cube your deli meats (Jane recommends slices of hard salami and roasted turkey), sliced provolone or mozzarella cheese, and vegetables into fairly equal-sized pieces.
  • Cook the pasta. After cooking the rotini pasta in a pot of salted water, rinse it under cold water and leave it in a colander to drain completely.
  • Make the dressing. Combine mayo and red wine vinegar in a large salad bowl and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and oregano. Whisk until smooth.
  • Build the salad. Add each salad ingredient to the dressing, starting with the iceberg lettuce, then mix until fully combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.   
Credit: Justine Lee

My Honest Review of Grinder Sandwich Pasta Salad

If you’re looking for an easy, minimal-cook recipe to add to your summer repertoire, let this pasta salad be the one! It tastes like a top-tier grinder sandwich and happens to be a thoughtfully constructed pasta salad, to boot. Pasta salad often gets a bad rap as a muffled, mayo-heavy ordeal, but that’s not the case here. Mayo is included for creaminess, but thanks to the slew of briny and sharp ingredients — Pepperoncini peppers, red onions, salami, and

red wine vinegar

Credit: Justine Lee

If You Make Grinder Sandwich Pasta Salad, a Few Tips

  1. Overcook your pasta. Yes, you read that right! If this was a warm pasta dish, my advice would be sacrilege, but hear me out. After boiling the pasta, you’ll run it under super-cold water. Plus, I recommend you refrigerate the composed salad before serving (see my next note). In each of those steps, the noodles will seize up ever so slightly. By taking the rotini pasta two to three minutes past al dente, you’ll be rewarded with firm yet delightfully springy noodles.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Jane says you can serve the grinder sandwich pasta salad at room temperature, and she’s not wrong. But I noticed a bigger flavor payoff after a 30-minute chill in the fridge.
  3. Load up on the works! This recipe was fantastic as written, but I think bumping up each of the grinder sandwich ingredients would have taken things to an 11. Aren’t grinder sandwiches the best when they’re fully loaded? The same rule applies to this pasta salad.

Have you made this grinder sandwich-inspired pasta salad? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.