Friday, December 12, 2008

my favorite pasta salad.

I have never really liked pasta salad. Not in the least. It has always been served to me smothered in mayonnaise or vinaigrette, usually with soggy noodles and one of my least favorite vegetables, celery. I have just never understood the appeal or why it is so popular for delis, parties, and picnics. The idea of it is innocent enough: cold pasta, some sauce, and some vegetables, but somehow it is all too frequently executed badly.

A few years ago, however, I came across a recipe that made me realize just how good pasta salad could be. The rather loose recipe was hidden inside the pages of one of my favorite zines, Invincible Summer by Nicole Georges, written sweetly in her swirly writing. I hungrily decided to make it one afternoon and fell completely in love with the combination of strong garlic, sundried tomatoes, and white beans. I like to eat it cooled just to room temperature with fresh parmesan and crushed red pepper sprinkled on top. Just perfect.

The Best Pasta Salad: adapted from Invincible Summer


1 bag pasta, your choice (I like penne or corkscrew)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced
1 carton or about 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 jar sundried tomatoes with oils
a little bit of fresh or dried basil
a little bit of fresh or dried oregano
4 stewed tomatoes, sliced, or 2 fresh, diced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
about a handful of sliced black olives
salt and pepper, to taste


1. Boil the pasta.
2, In the meantime, sautee the garlic in the olive oil for just a few minutes, until golden.
3. Add mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Cook on medium for about five minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, beans, and olives. Cook for five more minutes.
5. Drain pasta. Stir the finished mixture into pasta and add salt and pepper, to taste. Add more oil if necessary, but the juices from the other ingredients should suffice.
6. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold, depending on your own preference.


Jesse said...

I agree about pasta salad- not my favorite. However, I too have one that I adore and make over and over again. It also has beans in it, so that must be the secret. I'm going to give yours a shot - it looks like there might be two pasta salads that I love now!

Dale said...

I often feel the same about pasta salad. I just can't get behind all this mayonaise. This pasta salad looks soo good! I bet it was delicious. Thanks for the great recipe :).

Baradar said...

I love tuna pasta salad, the recipe I use is:

Tuna in oil (not brine)
Celery (I know you hate it! but it can be left out)
White wine vinegar (just a splash)
Black pepper and salt

It's best served fridge cold, with some fresh mayo and coriander leaves.

rachel said...

I have similar sentiments toward pasta salad...have you tried this recipe?

It's excellent. I usually cut down the olive oil and leave out the feta...not really for health reasons, I just think it tastes way better! Once, I even successfully subbed the orzo with brown rice...although then it's not really pasta salad anymore.

Melissa said...

This looks sooo good! I am going to have to try it.

Stacey Snacks said...

Jamie Oliver makes a pasta salad called "The BEST pasta salad".
It has lots of fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes and olives.
It's your kind of pasta salad all the way. Delicious and reminds me of summer!

Stacey Snacks

John said...

Great recipe! I found using the Pasta n' More from Harriet Carter saves me so much time. I dont know how i did with out it!

Sarah said...

Yum! That looks good.
I have to say that I just discovered your blog about a month ago and I love it. I've already fixed about 3 of your dishes and have several of your post/recipes printed off...waiting for me to just go get the ingredients.
Anyway...I'm thrilled I came across your blog.
Vintage Lily

adelerium said...

I add pinenuts and green pepper to mine, but its about the same. I have to omit the mushrooms although I love love love them because my bf hates them.