Linda's Pasta Salad
One day last summer I was looking in the cabinet trying to think what I had on hand to make for dinner. It was a blisteringly hot day, much like today which topped 110 F. I saw a package of some Trecce dell' Orto, braids of the garden, pasta I had splurged on a few months before. I'll bet Filippo knows of this type of pasta. I also saw some dried blueberries and some sunflower seeds kernels.
So I thought to throw together a pasta salad with some nice sized tomatoes I had growing in the garden. They were Juliette variety. The Juliette variety is shaped similar to a Roma, but is thinner, smaller, and comes to a point at the bottom. The Juliette stays firm, grows in clusters, clings to the vine, and is crack resistant. It's also not too juicy for a salad, unlike cherry tomatoes.
I've out lined the recipe below for Linda's Pasta Salad which I made up with unique ingredients I found in my pantry one summer day. It may sound unusual to have olives, sunflower seeds, and dried blueberries all in the same salad, but this salad is a treat to your taste buds. It is sweet, tangy, salty, crunchy, smooth and oh so tasty, unlike anything you have ever tasted before all in one dish. Sometimes combining out-of-the-ordinary ingredients together turns out really wonderful.
1 lb of Trecce dell’ Orto pasta, 'braids of the garden' pasta,
cooked al dente, drained and rinsed with cold water
rainbow Rotini or other multi-colored pasta may be substituted
2/3 cup dry roasted salted sunflower kernels
no additional salt is needed in salad
1 cup of whole dried blueberries (I imagine fresh blueberries would do)
25 fresh Juliette tomatoes halved lengthwise
other fresh, firm-type tomatoes, such as Roma, may be substituted
1-10 oz jar pitted Calamata olives, drained well and cut in half
1-10 oz jar garlic stuffed green olives, drained well and cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons herbs de Provence
1 tsp dried crushed lavender buds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground mixed peppercorns
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
Cook the pasta al dente or until just done, not too soft. Drain well and rinse immediately with cold water till cool, loosen pasta from one another while rinsing. Let the pasta drain well.
To the cooked, well drained, and cooled pasta, add the sunflower kernels, the dried blueberries, the halved Juliette tomatoes, the Calamata olives, and the garlic stuffed green olives. Next sprinkle the Herbs de Provence, crushed lavender buds and grind the peppercorns over the top. Then sprinkle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top and fold (toss gently) so the pasta stays intact. No need to add any salt since the olives and sunflower seeds have enough already. Put in the refrigerator to marinate and meld the flavors together for 4 hours, fold (toss gently) once more after two hours and just before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
Serve on a bed of greens also with some crisp Italian bread and a white wine (and perhaps a fresh sprig of lavender in the wine). If you try this salad, please let me know if you like it, I'd love to hear from you. Check back again to hear about another unusual recipe I made recently. Think quick, easy and inexpensive.