Monday, November 19, 2012

Pasta salad

Not being a huge mayonnaise fan (although the homemade version is a much more convincing argument for its merits than the storebought kind), it took me a long time to warm up to the idea of pasta salad. Add in all the people among my family and friends who can't or don't want to eat mayo for various reasons, and it becomes an even less appealing option. But then again, remember that this is pasta we're talking about here - pretty much my single most favorite food item. And then you'll understand why I still remember the day, probably 15 years ago now, when I discovered a recipe for pasta salad that didn't involve mayo; that I could feed to vegans and people with high cholesterol; that I could leave out in the sun at cookouts without fear of giving everyone food poisoning. I've been making variations of it ever since.

Tomato-pasta salad
Adapted from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Cookbook
I haven't looked at the original recipe for this in years, but I knew exactly where to find it. I had never made a pasta salad before I found this; since I have I've made dozens, and passed along the recipe almost every time. When the audience permits, I've added variations such as chopped prosciutto or salami, shredded pecorino romano, or olives. It's very adaptable.

1 450 g/16 oz package short pasta
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tsp balsamic vinegar3 tsp chopped fresh basil leaves
~10 grinds black pepper

Cook pasta as directed on package in salted boiling water and take off heat while it is still a bit more al dente than you might like. Drain; rinse in cold water to stop cooking; drain again. Dump pasta into a large mixing bowl and mix oil through first, to keep from sticking together. Add in remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, or until chilled.

Serves 10-12 people as a side.


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