But a good pasta salad is hard to find. I've had more than my share of pasta salads where you can taste nothing but the mayo, where the pasta is gummy and mushy or pasta salads that are simply too bland and blah.
Well, I tried a new recipe last week that I suspect will be my go-to pasta salad for this summer. The inspiring recipe came from Kalyn's Kitchen. I loved this recipe at first glance- it contains roasted vegetables, a sure way to amplify the flavor, and a flavorful dressing of pesto and balsamic vinegar. How can you go wrong?
Slow-roasted tomatoes play a starring role in this recipe. And this is how I had my oven on for 11 hours last Friday, one of the hottest days we have had all year. To be sure, the oven was at very low heat, only 200 degrees F, which is only slightly warmer than the ambient temperature that day. I used Kalyn's recipe for the roasted tomatoes, flavoring them with dried basil, dried oregano, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper (no salt, mind you). Here are the tomatoes before they went into the oven:
Eleven hours later, the earth had turned half a rotation, my home smelled like what I imagine a nonna's kitchen smells like (what with the aroma of Italian herbs and tomatoes) and the tomatoes looked like this:
We could easily have stopped here and polished off the tomatoes right then and there. Peeled, with a sprinkling of coarse salt, the roasted tomatoes are a delightful summer treat. However, I exercised some self-discipline and saved them to make the pasta salad the following day.
I believe dishes like salads are like fingerprints- no two are the same. I am just noting down how I made it that day; all proportions are to taste. Ingredients can be omitted or substituted with abandon.
Pesto Pasta Salad
Inspired by Kalyn's recipe for Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Zucchini, and Basil, makes 6-8 servings
3-4 cups dry short pasta (I used tricolor fusilli)
10-12 slow-roasted tomatoes, chopped into strips
3 yellow squashes, roasted
¼ cup chopped olives (I used mixed Greek olives)
3 tablespoons pesto (I used prepared pesto from Trader Joe's)
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup parmesan cheese (I used Stravecchio Parmesan)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil water and cook the pasta until just tender, then drain and rinse in cool water.
2. In a large bowl, mix the pesto, balsamic vinegar and parmesan together.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the cooked pasta.
4. Toss together and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for a few hours before serving.
The flavors of the pasta salad develop over several hours, and it tasted great even the next day when we ate leftovers for lunch (and I stood over the sink and licked the bowl clean). I altogether loved the contrasting taste of the briny olives, sweet-tart tomatoes and the sweet smoky squash.
It is only fitting that Pesto Pasta Salad should be dispatched to Ruth's Presto Pasta Night, hosted this week at Daily Unadventures in Cooking.
I'll see you in two days with a recipe that has us hopelessly addicted to green beans!