Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Friday, September 12, 2014

Italian Pasta Salad

I first fell in love with this salad about three years ago, but forgot about it over the past year. Last night I finally made it again and it was lovely. There is just no substitute for fresh basil! Here is a revamped version of the recipe, updated with pictures:

Original post 6/11-- During the summer I seem to be drawn more toward pasta salads than at any other time of the year. Maybe it's the fact that they can be prepared without heating up the oven (and the house), or that they can be eaten cold. Whatever the case, I know I'm not alone in this summertime trend.

In my search for a new pasta salad recipe last week, I found this one at I changed a couple things to make it a little more kid-friendly, and I thought it was superb. Especially with the fresh basil from our garden...!

Italian Pasta Salad

1 pound dried pasta shapes (fusilli, orecchiette, penne)--I use whole wheat pasta, whatever variety
2 pounds tomatoes (around 6 medium) roughly diced
1/2 to 1 pound fresh, water-packed mozzarella, cubed--I just used regular mozzarella
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar--I used 1/8 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. olive oil--I used less than this the first night we ate it, but on leftover night I had to add a bit more, since it had gotten a bit dry
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. kosher salt (or half as much table salt)--I use Real Salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 packed cup basil leaves, washed, spun dry, and slivered
1/3 c. toasted pine nuts--I've never had these to add to the recipe, but I'm sure they would be good

Cook pasta until just done.
Meanwhile, prepare tomatoes and cheese and put them in very large bowl. 

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to taste; mayo will help keep oil and vinegar from separating.
Drain hot pasta and shake dry, then add to bowl with cheese and tomatoes and stir with
rubber spatula to combine. (I let my pasta cool for a while before mixing it with other ingredients.)
Add about half the dressing, stir again, then fold in basil and pine nuts. 

Now taste pasta, and add more dressing and salt, if needed. If you have time, cover it and let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so to let flavors blend and to let pasta absorb some of the juice that will come out of the tomatoes. Taste just before serving and re-season as necessary. (Original recipe says not to refrigerate because it might change consistency of pasta, etc, but the second time around, I thought it was almost as good as the first time.)

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