As we got ready to move, my all-consuming fear was that was going to lose my notes for this Pasta Salad recipe I created this summer.
Why does the thought of getting to our new home and opening up my cookbook only to realize that the page is missing fill my heart with dread? Because it happened last year. (The losing the recipe part. Not the moving part.) When fresh tomato season finally hit this year I was excited to bust out the pasta salad recipe I had labored over, tweaking and perfecting last year.
Only it was nowhere to be found.
Not in my notes stash. Not in my cookbook. Not in the files on my computer. It had vanished into thin air. (Which means I probably didn’t properly identify it and threw it out at some point with the myriad of other note scribblings I take in the kitchen.)
I had to start this year from scratch. And now that I think about it, I really don’t mind cause that means lots of pasta salad recipe development. Which really means pasta salad eating. Which is a very delicious way to pass the time.
I grew up with pasta salad as a staple of our summer fare. We really didn’t eat seasonally but it was one of the few things we did eat only during the summer and maybe that is where the seed was planted that made me realize that food can be more fully appreciated and deeply enjoyed when it is only to be savored for a few weeks out of the whole year.
Now that we eat seasonally year round and from the land as much as possible, it was only natural that I bring the pasta salad tradition into my own family. But with it came 2 bottles of salad dressing and a shaker of seasoning mix. While it will do in a pinch, we try to stay away from those bottles and shakers as much as possible because we prefer to eat simple ingredients and haven’t figured out how preservatives fit that description. Besides homemade dressing is really super simple and so is mixing together herbs and spices. In fact, it can be done before the pasta is done boiling.
The great thing about recipes like these is you can tweak and adjust them to your taste. Feeling like more veggies, by all means, load it up! Seasonings not to taste? Add in some more. If you only have cherry tomatoes on hand use them- no sense in waiting to have a large ripe heirloom. One suggestion I would make is to save the extra virgin olive oil for something else. As much as it pains me to say so, I think that it really overwhelms the rest of the flavor of the salad and all those bright, fresh summer flavors struggle to come through.
Fresh from the Garden Pasta Salad
Fresh from the Garden Pasta Salad
- 1 pound pasta, cooked in salted water
- 1 large heirloom tomato, chopped (or a cup of cherry tomatoes halved)
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and grated
- 4-5 radishes, grated
- ⅔ cup olive oil, I find extra virgin olive oil to be too overpowering in this recipe
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 6 Tablespoons parmesan cheese, or romano cheese (or even a mix of the two)
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup ketchup, try homemade ketchup
- 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, or 1 Tablespoon dry
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seed
- 6 teaspoons fresh oregano, or 3 teaspoons dry
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it's fully cooked.
- Meanwhile chop the vegetables as directed in the ingredients. Use more or less vegetables to your taste.
- In a bowl measure out the olive oil, vinegars, herbs and spices. Whisk them together and then whisk in the sugar, ketchup, and parmesan cheese.
- Pour the dressing over the cool pasta and toss to fully coat it.
- Toss in the vegetables.
- Refrigerate until it's completely chilled and you're ready to serve.
- In cooking the pasta, I usually go a little beyond al dente since it will be served cold and I don't want the center to have a crunch.
- When the pasta is done cooking, drain off the water and run it under cold water to get it cooled down faster. If you're not done chopping the vegetables and mixing the dressing put the pasta in the refrigerator to cool.