in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Friday, June 1, 2012

Americanized Pasta

Pasta Salad w/ Fresh Mozzarella
8 ounces small pasta shells
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 orange bell pepper
1/2 small purple onion
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup diced sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
1/4 cup finely diced celery
2 ounces grated Romano cheese
4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped spinach
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (dark will work)
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the pasta shells. Cook for about 6 minutes and drain. Toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and set aside. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 degrees, wash and trim pepper then cut it into eight pieces. Quarter onion and separate layers. Toss pepper and onion with 1 teaspoon olive oil and remaining salt. Place on a roasting sheet and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and roughly chop veggies, reserving some pepper for garnish if desired. In a serving bowl, mix dried tomatoes, olives, celery and roasted peppers and onions. Stir in pasta and mix thoroughly. Stir in cheeses, spinach, basil, the remaining olive oil and the vinegar. Mix well, chill, garnish with peppers and basil leaves if desired and serve.

Hints: (This is an Americanized pasta because it is served cold as a salad which I understand is something the Italians would not do--correct me if I'm wrong on this Sophie or Anne Marie). I was wrong--see comments--thanks Soph! This works great as a warm pasta dish, too. Mix everything but the pasta together with the roasted veggies still warm and then add in the drained hot pasta, toss and serve. Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, cucumber or crab meat are all great additions. Use all basil and no spinach if you want. Add some chili pepper flakes for a kick. And of course you can switch out Parmesan for the Romano if you must. Don't pack the spinach or basil to measure it.

Summertime means more salads and more grill dinners. Pasta salads are great to make in the morning and then pop in the fridge for the day. Makes dinner so easy--especially if you can con someone else into grilling the meat! 


  1. Hi mom! Looks delicious as usual. Sorry to say that cold pasta salad was a favorite for picnics I went to in Florence. They even sell pre-packed pickled veggies that make the traditional pasta salad. I think it's a summertime staple--and it's delicious. I'd like to try yours sometime soon! How are you constantly coming up with new recipes?

  2. Good point Sophie! I love Mom's recipes!