Perfect Summer Pasta Salad
When it comes to cooking pasta, I may have grown a little too big for my britches. It seems I have a habit of making my pasta overly complex, much like my figures of speech.
At least once a week, I use an obscure phrase that earns a long pause or a quizzical look, presumably a result of excessive Jane Austen consumption in my youth. The phrase “big for your britches,” dropped unwittingly during an otherwise productive business meeting, caused a cascade of giggles and cemented my reputation for having the vocabulary of a 20th century schoolmarm.
All this by way of saying that while there’s a place for flourishes – for example, nettle pasta – sometimes simplicity is best. I was reminded of this recently by a simple pasta; so simple, in fact, that it has languished, unmade, for years in my recipe binder.
It resurfaced only recently, as I rooted around for a vegetarian-friendly side. Grilled pizza, my normal veggie go-to, was precluded by the massive quantities of meat encamped on our barbeque, so I retreated to the kitchen and took inventory. Nearly everything in this dish, save the fresh ricotta, lives normally in my fridge; come summer, the tomatoes and basil will be fresh from the garden.
With a flick of the blender, this pasta materialized in moments, and was devoured just as quickly. It’s light and fresh, and topped with a cool dollop of fresh ricotta. Simply said – it’s just plain good.
Gemelli with Tomatoes, Olives & Ricotta
From Martha Stewart Living
8 ounces gemelli (or fusilli or penne)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/3 cup fresh basil, torn
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat, so the pasta doesn’t clump.
Pulse sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and garlic in a food processor. With machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss together pasta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, olives, basil, and salt. Transfer to serving plates. Top with a scoop of ricotta, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with pepper.