Summer Pasta Salad


There are times during the real dog days of summer when I dread going into my kitchen to cook dinner, particularly after a long, busy day working around the farmhouse property. It is on days like these, that I have my husband fire up the grill and we will cook dinner outdoors. Since we do love our pasta though, on days that we plan to grill dinner, I often get up first thing in the morning and make a pasta, rice, or faro salad to go along with any meat and vegetables we may grill later. These salads keep well all day long, and are also perfect to pack for summer picnics or potluck dinners.

Since summer tomatoes are absolutely delicious, I generally don’t add a lot of other vegetables to my pasta salads, as I want to highlight the ripe, delicious flavor of the summer harvest tomatoes. For this salad, which is a particular favorite of mine, along with my garden fresh plum tomatoes, I add onions, tasty black olives, salted capers, diced fresh mozzarella, and chopped fresh herbs. I use a light red wine vinaigrette to dress the salad which helps bring all the flavors together nicely. I usually assemble all the salad ingredients in a big bowl in the morning, mix together my dressing ingredients to allow the flavors to meld, and then toss the dressing with the pasta mixture about an hour before I serve it. Although I do store the salad in the refrigerator before I serve it, it is best to allow everything to come to room temperature before serving which really allows the flavors to come to life. I love to make enough of this salad to have leftovers for lunch the next day! Feta cheese is also delicious in this salad in place of the fresh mozzarella.

 Pasta salad made with feta cheese instead of mozzarella.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

A great salad idea for outdoor dining in the summer.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pound Short Pasta (Fusilli, Large Shells or Mezza Penne Work Well)
  • 1 Pound Ripe Cherry, or Plum Tomatoes
  • 4 Green Scallions, Chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Pitted & Coarsely Chopped Black Olives Such As Kalamata
  • 1/4 Cup Rinsed Salted Capers
  • 1 Pound Fresh Mozzarella, Cut Into Small Dice (Or Feta Cheese)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 9 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Sun-Dried Tomatoes In Oil
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, Peeled
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until it is “al dente”, then rinse in cold water and drain well.
  2. If using cherry tomatoes, cut into half.
  3. If using plum tomatoes, chop coarsely and place in a large bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients and toss.
  4. Blend together the dressing ingredients until almost smooth.
  5. An hour before serving, toss the dressing with the pasta mixture and let the flavors meld for one hour at room temperature before serving.