Summer Pasta Salad ? ? ?
As with most pasta, this salad gets better and better over time. As the pasta cools, the flavors mingle and blend into a lovely group of complementary flavors on the palate. This recipe is perfect for a BBQ or party because it’s easy to make and it feeds a lot of hungry people!
Le Voov! Summer Pasta Salad
16 oz. package of thin spaghetti pasta
24 cherry or pear tomatoes (I like to mix yellow with red just for visual fun!)
1 red onion chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh arugula leaves, lightly chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
¾ cup toasted pine nuts
1½ cups red wine vinegar
1¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Zest & juice from one fresh lemon
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1½ tablespoon of mashed garlic (*If using fresh, you may wish to cook for 5-minutes to take the edge off the fresh garlic.)
Salt & pepper generously to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions minus 1 – 2 minutes. Most spaghetti directions state 8-10 minutes cooking time. We prefer ‘al dente’ (firm to the bite) for this recipe, so check for basic cook-through around 7 – 8 minutes by pulling an unwilling member out of the boiling pot, wrestling it to the counter top, and taste for doneness. If it still has a stiff bite to the center, give it another minute or two at most. Salted water for pasta is important in this recipe.
While pasta is slowly boiling, cut up red onion, place in a large bowl, and mix up dressing ingredients. I use a mason jar to make the dressing so I can add all ingredients easily, then shake with conviction for about 15-seconds. Remove the metal top from the jar and heat in the microwave for 30 – 60 seconds to persuade the various ingredients to mingle and dance just a bit. Do not allow to boil! (Honestly, it makes a hell-of-a-mess in the microwave, swear!) ?
Toast pine nuts, cut up tomatoes, arugula & basil while pasta cooks and drains for 2-minutes. (*Do not rinse pasta!) While pasta is still very hot, throw it into the large bowl with the red onions and cover with ½ the dressing, combine with vigor using tongs. Add salt & pepper to taste.
After 20-minutes of cooling time at room temperature, add tomatoes, arugula, basil and remainder of dressing. Then, taste again for seasoning balance. If you feel your dish needs more of a certain ingredient, trust yourself and add to the bowl. I do this with every recipe, which is why I am so challenged with exact measurements. Sorry my foodie friends…! 😉
Finally, sprinkle toasted pine nuts over the top & add a sprig or two of basil leaves just for fun!
Le Voov! Chef’s Note: I usually like to serve this pasta salad at room temperature the first time because it allows for all the flavors to blend nicely, without being cold. After that, serve cold or warm as a side dish.