Insalata di Pasta – Tuna Pasta Salad
Whether you find yourself in an air conditioned building or outside in the summer heat, when the sun is high and the temperature and humidity stifling, your appetite falls. It is a natural defense mechanism. Restaurant owners have long known this fact and intentionally keep the temperature in the dining room similar to springtime in Alaska. You eat more when it is cold and less when it is hot. The types of food your body desires also changes. Savory foods with lots of salt become less appealing and fruits and vegetables are a natural choice to replenish the fluids lost during the hot days.
Digestion is also slower in the heat, or at least it seems that way. Just imagine a Thanksgiving’s feast when the temperature is near 100. Italian foods change over the course of the year. Fruits and vegetables become protagonists as the come into season and savory slow cooked meats and stews take over in the winter. Summer dishes are also easier to prepare and require little or no time over the stove. Who wants to spend an hour in the kitchen with the oven and fires going full blast? Cold salads, usually prepared very early in the morning, are one of the solutions. This does not mean just green salads instead it includes salads where the basic ingredients are in season.
One of my favorite salads is Tuna pasta salad. Cool, fresh yet still with consistency, something to grind between your teeth and leave you psychologically as well as nutritionally satisfied. The preparation is quick and can be stored for several days.
2 lbs (1 kg.) short pasta like Fusili, Penne or Bowties
12 oz. can of good quality tuna in water
2 stalks of celery (do not cook the celery)
4 oz. spring onions under oil or pickled
2 medium carrots
4 oz. fresh peas or frozen peas
4 oz. grilled bell peppers under oil
4 oz. artichoke hearts
1 oz. capers under oil
4 oz. pitted olives
2 tomatoes sliced
Parsley finely chopped (for garnish)
¼ cup Olive Oil
Preparation of fresh carrots and peas:
Dice the vegetables into ¼ inch cubes. When the Water for the pasta boils place the vegetables in a wire basket and dip for 3 minutes in the boiling water. Remove the wire basket and place under running cold water for 30 seconds. Let drain.
Frozen Vegetables, Pickled Vegetables or Vegetables under oil require no preparation.
Place abundant water in a large pot. Add 3 tablespoons of salt. Boil over high heat. If using fresh peas and carrots cook them for 3 minutes as described above.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water as described on the package. For short pasta this will usually be 7-9 minutes. Drain the pasta and cool under running water for 30 seconds.
Place the pasta in a large bowl. Place the remaining ingredients, except the tomatoes, in a separate bowl with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and two turns of freshly ground pepper. Mix the vegetable ingredients to evenly distribute the Olive Oil. Add the remaining ingredients, except the tomatoes, to the pasta. Mix well. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Finally position the tomatoes around the edge of the bowl and drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top of the salad.
Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I would prepare this at least 24 hours before serving.
Serving: Always allow the salad to come to room temperature before serving. This will take about 30 minutes.
Tags: Gourmet Foods Salads Antipasti Pasta Italian Recipes Food and Wine Travel Italy