In the world of pasta salad dishes, there are as many recipes as there are different shapes of pasta. With that in mind, I’m frequently on the lookout for a pasta salad that’s impressive and a bit different from the norm. Here is one that’s definitely impressive and anything but a normal, everyday pasta side dish. I found this Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomates, Basil and Parmesan Cheese recipe a few years ago from my BFF, Ina Garten (she doesn’t know she’s my BFF though, long story). The dressing, made with sun-dried tomatoes in oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and olive oil is so fresh, earthy and amazing. Corkscrew type pasta is perfect so you get dressing in every little groove and consequently, every bite.
To bring the salad way over the top, add fresh basil, kalamata or other favorite black olives and lots of fresh tomatoes. Then, of course, this salad gets a very liberal dose of Parmesan cheese. You could substitute the Parmesan for Feta or use both! I love this pasta so much, not only is it a perfect side salad for any occasion, it’s hearty enough for a meatless main dish. Add your favorite Italian deli meats such as Genoa salami and then dice in some provolone to make a sort of muffelleta salad.
Here’s another look at the delicious dressing before it’s all mixed in. You can start with adding about two-thirds of the dressing and add more as you like. I’ve always added every last drop. If you’re looking for something different in a pasta salad, trust me on this. I’m picky about what impresses me in this area and I’m drawn to the unusual (that’s pretty true about any food recipe) – Just check out my Kale Pesto Pasta with Black Olives, Capers and Chocolate.
- For the dressing:
- 1 (7 oz.) jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup light olive oil or avocado oil
- Salt And Pepper, to taste
- For the salad:
- 16 ounces sprial pasta of choice (rotini is a good one)
- ¾ cup black or kalamata olives (or favorite olives of your choice), rough chopped
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or julienne sliced
- 1½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Feta cheese, optional, in place of the Parmesan or in addition.
- In a blender or food processor (my preference), combine sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar until tomatoes are chopped. Continue blending while drizzling in olive oil until mixed well.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until no longer hot.
- Pour ⅔ of the dressing over the pasta. Add olives and toss together. Add remaining ingredients, tossing together and adding more dressing until the salad is coated to your liking (I use it all).
- Serve on a big platter with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
- This is an excellend side pasta but is substantial enough to be a meatless main dish.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.