Tulsa is so flippin' hot right now that words cannot describe the sweaty, sticky, soppiness of my body. Actually, one word can: Gross. It's gross out there. If lunch time is upon you and if my introductory sentence didn't make you lose your appetite, you might want to consider this pasta salad. Try not to relegate this to the side of that same old sandwich...it can stand alone. And, it's cold. Plus, it features some lovely summer ingredients that will make you really happy and you'll forget that you hate summer and want Fall to arrive with all your heart. Except when Fall comes, you really start to miss all those fresh herbs and tomatoes that actually have flavor...it's a harsh cycle. One day, I'll embrace the flavors that are upon me when they are upon me but, what can I say? I'm always thinking ahead.
Let me say one more thing before I proceed here... I typically dislike pasta salad. I can't get beyond the cold pasta with the salty mayo thing. I mean, it always sounds good in theory but I never quite enjoy it as much as I feel I should. This pasta salad has no mayo or unidentifiable cream laden bits. Instead, it is oil based and gains it's flavor from a rich base of sun-dried tomatoes, salty capers and olives ( which I actually enjoyed in this dish.) Throw in some fresh basil and sliced local tomatoes ( I used grape tomatoes from Livesay Orchards) and you're in summery bliss.
Sun-dried Tomato Pasta Salad
(Serves 12-16----- makes for great leftovers!)
Adapted from Ina Garten: Barefoot Contessa Family Style
For the salad:
1lb corkscrew pasta such as fusili or rotini
About 1 cup assorted black olives, roughly sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
10-15 basil leaves- chiffonade ( roll em up and slice thin!)
About 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
For the dressing:
7 oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil *
4-5 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed.
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil**
Optional: 2 teaspoons capers
Salt and Pepper to taste
* You can also get sun-dried tomatoes that have been packed in seasoned oil. This recipe doesn't call for that but it's not a bad idea if you like the flavor variety. Just check your salt levels.
**You can choose to discard the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and add a fresh cup of oil or you can use it here and just add enough new oil to make the total about 1 cup. It is especially tasty to retain that preseasoned oil we just talked about!
Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and puree. That's your dressing! This can totally be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge.
For the pasta, boil until al dente in a large stock pot. Drain and allow to cool. Once cool, toss with dressing to coat. Stir in olives, basil, and tomatoes ( NOTE: if you're planning on making this in advance, I found that adding the tomatoes right before serving keeps things fresh and crisp. I have a thing with tomato consistency... you'll notice I don't even have them in there for the pic! Oops.) Keep chilled until ready to serve. Top with cheese.