It’s middle of summer here in Seattle and we are trying to enjoy as much outdoor meals as possible. I made this salad for a barbecue party the other day and it was a hit, so I decided to post the recipe here. I wanted to make a pasta salad that would be substantial enough to please vegetarians and meat eaters alike, but didn’t want that kind of mayonnaise-based pasta salad I often see at barbecue tables. I used fresh ingredients and herbs and seasoned it with a simple but always effective combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Nothing complicated. The lemon zest is in my opinion what makes this dish taste especially fresh. This salad is better the day it is made and I like to serve it at room temperature. In fact, this salad is never chilled. It is made and served at room temperature.
You can use fresh mushrooms, sautéed and cooled, instead of the jarred ones. The halloumi cheese can be replaced fresh mozzarella or feta cheese.
Summer Pasta Salad Recipe:
You will need:
1 box of rotini (fusilli) pasta
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
6 fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 cup of halloumi cheese, crumbled or diced
1/4 cup of olives, pitted and chopped
4 oz of jarred button mushrooms, larger ones cut in half
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
1 generous teaspoon of lemon zest
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 6 to 7 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta, season it with half of the salt and pepper and add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mix well and set aside to cool to room temperature.
While the pasta cools, chop the tomatoes and place them in a large serving bowl. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Add the cheese, olives, mushrooms, parsley and basil. Mix well.
When the pasta is at room temperature, transfer it to the serving bowl, add the lemon zest and toss it well with the other ingredients.
Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve at room temperature.