If you’ve been reading my posts these past few weeks, you know what we’ve been eating up: the pantry! 🙂 Every day this summer, I have worked diligently to declutter the pantry and to give new life to long-forgotten ingredients – and the work is far from over. In the process, I discovered I had a stockpile of high quality rice and pasta, perfect components for easy light summer salads. These pantry staples can be used creatively particularly in the summer, when there’s an abundance of in-season affordable produce.
Growing up, my family and I had no knowledge of pasta salad and how delicious it could be. We would usually eat pasta with feta cheese, if available, or with hot milk, with some sugar on top. Our meal was nothing fancy: pasta was sustenance, a good filler for our bellies when nothing else was available to eat. As we went on to discover different countries, cultures, and eating habits, we gained a better understanding of the versatility of pasta. We said goodbye to pasta with warm milk (we still make it from time to time, but as a treat/dessert, not as a main meal), and hello to pasta salads and their vibrant mix of flavors. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to pasta, right? 🙂
To make the salad pictured above I used one of the best gourmet pastas I’ve ever had the chance to work with: Tuscanini Foods pasta, imported straight from Italy.
Tuscanini Foods has recently expanded its culinary offerings with a lineup of gourmet products – from naturally sparkling cold pressed beverages to bronze cut Italian pasta – that allow consumers to enjoy gourmet options in homemade Italian favorites year-round.
Tuscanini Foods pastas contain natural ingredients, nothing artificial, and are certified OU kosher. According to the info I was sent along with the products, they “are bronze cut to create a porous, home-style texture that showcases the sauce in every bite.” I was intrigued by this information, so I did more research on the topic, which confirmed the outstanding quality of Italian bronze cut pasta and its superior sauce absorption capabilities.
To make this pasta salad, I used Tuscanini Foods tricolor Conchiglie (seashells). Here it is – straight out of the pantry and into the sunny spotlight: 😉
Cooking with Tuscanini Foods 100% Durum Semolina pastas was a satisfying experience from the very beginning. The smell of basil embellished my kitchen while boiling the pasta, in a way which was both surprising and exciting. While I had often used veggie pasta in the past, I had never ever encountered one with such an intense aroma, especially during boiling. From the start, this pasta stood out to me in the most aromatic way possible.
With quality tricolor vegetable pasta as main ingredient, my salad was a resounding success, especially with DH, who until then had been a very reluctant consumer of fresh basil (if at all). I used shredded grilled salmon, but you can use grilled chicken as a substitute with a similarly light texture and mild flavor. I added sugar snap peas and sun-dried tomatoes for a contrast of states (fresh v preserved) and textures, and created a second layer of contrasting elements with marinated artichokes and super sweet cherry tomatoes.
As for the Tuscanini Foods seashell pasta, it certainly surpassed my expectations in terms of taste, color, and dressing absorption. It soaked up a lot of flavor and moisture from the other ingredients while also maintaining its fluffy texture and unmistakable fresh veggie taste. The shells were the perfect vehicle to capture bits of the other components, from salmon to peas, while the addition of basil, fresh from the garden, enhanced the original basil flavor of the pasta without overpowering the dish as a whole.
What a beautiful and intense flavor experience!
You can make this salad with any high quality tricolor vegetable pasta (I recommend Barilla’s Tricolor Rotini as an accessible alternative to Tuscanini’s, which might be hard to find). I hope you enjoy this pasta salad as much as we do. As I said above, my husband used to dislike basil, but now he loves it – and this salad was the dish that made him change his mind. Now he asks for this pasta salad all the time to eat at home or to take to work. My supply of Tuscanini Foods tricolor pasta has dwindled, but I have no regrets: using quality pantry staples has never tasted more exciting or delicious 🙂
Tricolor vegetable pasta salad
- 4 cups dry tricolor vegetable pasta
- 1 cup shredded grilled salmon or chicken
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, pods removed
- 1/2 cup marinated artichokes, cut into 1in pieces
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil + extra, if necessary
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground peppercorn medley to taste
- Cook pasta as per the instructions on the package. When cooked, remove pasta from the simmering water and place in a big mixing bowl to cool slightly. Add about 2tbsp olive oil and mix the pasta (the oil will prevent the pasta from sticking together).
- Add cherry tomatoes, peas, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix until combined.
- In a small bowl make the vinaigrette by mixing olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad. Mix until homogeneous. Add extra salt and pepper if necessary, and mix some more. Add basil leaves, and toss the salad a couple more times. Place the parmesan on top. Put the salad in the refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled.