Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Linda's Pasta Salad

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.

Juliette 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.


  1. Those tomatoes are absolutely beautiful! Do they do well in heat?

  2. Oh my that looks like a tasty pile of pasta!
    I love to cook from whatever I have.
    Lst night it was tomatoes, young squash, fresh onions, fresh herbs, a bit of grilled hickory smoked chicken and pasta.

  3. Hi Miri, thanks, it gets hot as hades here and they do just fine. I just love them, they keep real well too.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, nothing better than hickory to smoke meat. We used to have hickory trees when we lived in Arkansas.

  4. Thanks Gary, I didn't want to brag too much, I hope you try it and let me know what you think.

  5. mama mia... that sounds really yummy, not sure where i can get lavender buds but everything else is a snap

  6. Hi Jim, World Market sometimes carries lavender buds in their spice section, not sure if they have those in the East? Sometimes herbs de Provence has lavender in it and sometimes it doesn't. The recipe is fine without the lavender though. Hope you like it.

  7. Ciao Linda, It must be very good. I know the Trecce dell'Orto is a good pasta Make of the "Fattora" in the city of Apulia (Roma). I have a classic recipe. If you have again Trecce you can try
    TRECCE Dell'ORTO and Cream of Chick Peas and Shrimp:
    Trecce dell'Orto 200 grams
    a canned chick peas 410 grams
    fresh or frozen shrimp 100 grams
    1 clove garlic
    a good olive oil
    salt & pepper

    Drain the beans, wash under running water, put them in the blender and whip,add two or three tablespoons of water to make the mixture soft but not liquid.
    Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry garlic for a few minutes (after eliminate the clove of garlic), place the shrimp and have them jump for two to three minutes .. At this point add the cream of chick peas and let cook for about 5 minuti.You Can to add a little water if the cream will seem too dry. Turn off the fire and put it aside.
    Cook the pasta al dente, drain it and let skip (saltare) a couple of minutes with the Crema of chickpea and shrimp.
    Serve hot with two or three almonds.
    Answering pasta with pasta.

  8. Hi Filippo, thanks, I will try your recipe, it too sounds wonderful. I love how you describe letting the shrimp jump and the pasta skip - so descriptive. Cream of chickpea is much healthier than real cream too.

  9. Oh what a taste of summer, and a delight for the eyes too! We do still have a bowl of late fresh tomatoes that we might try something similar with. Not all the ingredients are possible (it is mid winter after all), but.... it is definitely worth a try. Thanks for the lovely photo and recipe. Bon Appetit!

  10. Sweet! 2 receipes to try! Thanks guys, I am soooo not a cook but I can READ! And the PHOTOs make it look soooo good I can even taset it! YUMMY!

  11. Hi Peter, thanks, the blueberries are dried or freeze dried if you can find them. Of course tomatoes are another story.

    Hi Mary, yes two recipes how cool; can't wait to try Filippo's.


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