Recipe: Italian pasta salad

By Silvia Nacamulli, July 23, 2009
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This is one of my favourite Italian summer dishes. It is quick, tasty and is great eaten warm or cold. The quality of the ingredients is key, so choose the best tomatoes you can find — they can be vine, plum or cherry; red, yellow or green, as long as they are ripe, sweet and juicy. Get the tuna in olive oil, or, failing that, sunflower oil. And the olives should be good quality Mediterranean olives, preferably marinated in oil — green ones work just as well as black. Fresh mozzarella is a good addition, but you can leave it out if you want the dish parev. Good quality pasta will keep al dente for longer, so try to get an Italian brand. Finally, if you would like an extra flavour, add 2 tablespoons of pesto. You can’t get it more Italian than this!

Ingredients
● 500 g short pasta
● 600-700 g fresh ripe tomatoes
● 200 g Mediterranean black olives (preferably pitted)
● 150 g tuna in olive oil
● 150 g tin drained corn
● 200 g finely diced fresh mozzarella (optional)
● Approx 150 ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil
● 2 cloves of garlic cut in halves/quarters (optional)
● A handful of fresh basil
● Sea salt, table salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
● Thoroughly wash the tomatoes and dice them.
● Once cut, put them in a large serving bowl and add the tuna (shredded), the corn, the olives and the basil.
● Finally, add the garlic if using, a teaspoon of fine salt, black pepper according to taste and the extra virgin olive oil. Mix thoroughly.
● TIP: Prepare the mixture up to a couple of hours in advance for extra flavour.
● Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add 2 tablespoons of rock salt.
● Drop in the pasta, stir well and let it cook for as long as the package says or until al dente.
● Drain the pasta well and mix it straight away into the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir well, adding more salt, pepper and oil if needed.
● If you want to eat the pasta warm then add the mozzarella (if using) after you added the pasta to the tomatoes and stir well. In this way the mozzarella melts slightly while still tasting fresh.
● If you are serve the pasta salad cold, keep it covered and add the mozzarella just before serving, together with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Silvia Nacamulli’s website is www.cookingforthesoul.com. Next week: The Jewish Princes

Last updated: 4:11pm, July 23 2009