We attended the annual end of year family picnic for my son’s Cub Scout den. The other moms usually request my Pasta with Pesto and Peas side dish that both adults and children love, but I decided to go rogue this year and bring a sun-dried tomato pasta salad.
The recipe is a little risky because it uses black olives. Many people (meaning TheRoomMom) avoid olives. However, this recipe has just enough olives to give a salty/briny taste without actually having a super olive-y flavor. I originally got the recipe from an Ina Garten cookbook and have tweaked it a little over time. With Memorial Day picnics just around the corner, this recipe might be something to consider.
- 1 lb. fusili pasta (corkscrew pasta)
- kosher salt
- good olive oil
- 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
- 1/4 c. black kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 lb. fresh mozarella, medium-diced
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
- 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 c. basil leaves cut in chiffonade (thin ribbons)
- 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 2 T. red wine vinegar
- 6 T. good olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, diced
- 1 t. capers, drained
- 2 t. kosher salt
- 3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for the time given in the directions on the box (about 12 minutes). Drain well. Add pasta to a large bowl, and toss with a little olive oil (~2 t.) to keep from sticking together. Let the pasta cool.
- While pasta is cooling, seed the tomatoes and dice. I used Roma tomatoes because they looked like they would be the reddest and tastiest of my choices in the store. If you can get really good homegrown tomatoes in another variety, use them.
- Pit (if needed) and chop the black olives into a very small dice. Chop 6 sun-dried tomatoes. Cut the mozzarella into medium dice.
- Add diced tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella to the cooled pasta and toss gently.
- For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients (sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper) in a food processor and run the food processor until the dressing is almost smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss well.
- Just before serving, add basil and Parmesan cheese and toss again.
- Can be made ahead.
- It is served at room temperature, so it works well for tailgates, picnics, or group meals.
- Diced artichoke hearts are a good addition.
- Pairs well with grilled chicken or grilled steaks.