May 5, 2012

Ina Garten's Pasta Salad

For the past week, we have been watching Dallas. It came up in a conversation last week and it turns out that my industrious fiance has the complete series on DVD and never told me. We are now ensconced in seventies splendor - big hair, electric bass and synthesizer, poolside telephones, ladies lounging in silk nightgowns and men in thick neckties saying things like "females...sometimes their emotions get in the way of their good common sense." In short, I am a little obsessed with Dallas. I love the simple characters, the starched dialogue, the jazz trumpets, the ladies' fashion. This summer, TNT is creating a new Dallas, with characters from the old show as patriarchs and matriarchs. We're trying to get through the old one so we can watch the new with full minds and full information. It's a summer kind of task.

I'm not sure what the seventies has to do with pasta salad. But there was a scene at Southfork ranch with Texas barbecue, iced tea, and pasta salads; it reminded me of this delicious pasta salad I made last month for Easter. This recipe is from the always-trustworthy Ina Garten and is the perfect - I mean perfect - accompaniment for summer cookouts everywhere. Bursting with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella chunks, and basil, this pasta salad will be a staple throughout the summer for me. Like Dallas. And understanding the seventies. Lucy's hair is my new aspiration.

Ina Garten's Pasta Salad

For the salad base
1/2 pound fusilli or rotini
1 tomato, as fresh as possible
3/4 cup black olives, drained and diced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon capers
2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped julienne

Cook pasta according to instructions. Add salt and a splash of olive oil to the boiling water so the pasta will be well-flavored and not sticky. Drain and cool pasta completely.

In the meantime, make the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in blender and blend until very smooth. If needed, add a bit more olive oil. Toss dressing with cooled pasta and add tomato, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Finish with fresh Parmesan and basil leaves. This cool summer salad can be refrigerated overnight and even more delicious the next day. 

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