Sunday, July 16, 2006

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.


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Blogger Jose said...

What a nice blog you have here, I really like blogs that are easy to the eye as well as easy to read. I speak Spanish and Italian would be such an easy language for me to learn except I never tried. As far as Italian food I love some of it but my wife and daughters on the other hand can't have enough of it.

12:04 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Jose - Thank you for the compliment. I do hope you will stop by again. Joe wrote an article about Mustangs both the airplanes I believe it was the P-41 and the car. In school I could not get enough about the WWII fighters and would read a book every three or four days.

12:19 PM

Blogger Alfonso Cevola said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:40 PM

Blogger Alfonso Cevola said...

looks great.. thinking we probably need to get you and Rafa out of the house....yor're getting to sound a bit Martha Stewart-y...
just kidding....
wall street is tanking, the mid east is erupting and here we sit talking about salad...that is a thing of wonder....haha

1:41 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

IWG I was thinking the same thing today. As you know, I strongly believe the world is on a path to face some very serious difficulties. Diffifuclties that could change current social structures. I also believe that one of the primary causes of this is the "cowboy capitalism" without enlightened self-interest (at least the enlightened part).

Thus, after much soul searching, I decided to proceed with my little and insignificant attempt to get people to think about something other than buying that shiny new whatever, that will break in 5 minutes, and maybe just for a few minutes think about what is really important to them.

I believe, no matter how much it seems otherwise, that people understand that family, health and friends are more important than a new BMW.

I know it is very Don Chisciotte fighting the windmills but I think the world can change for the better.

1:59 PM

Blogger ChickyBabe said...

I wonder if you can use fresh tuna instead of tinned. Not so keen on the canned variety.

7:33 PM

Blogger ColleenQ said...

Alas, I have noticed the slightly freezing temperatures of restaurant's during the hotter months, which is why cold-blooded people like me are forced to keep sweaters in our cars. Bah.

Thank you for starting my day on a delicious note (again). :)

4:42 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ChickyBabe Obviously you are most correct. It should be made with fresh tuna. In our case we would grill tuna steaks over the weekend and I would prepare the salad the following day. The difference in taste is significant!

CG Raffaella has the same problem. She will not wear some of her most beautiful dresses to the restaurant because they have bare shoulders and there is no good way to match a jacket. The restaurant is cold (not just cool).

4:59 AM

Blogger Doll Face said...

yum yum yum yum! did i say yum? Ohhh look its almost lunch time here.

6:56 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Natalie - a cool salad, some good white wine... Sounds like a great afternoon to me!

7:26 AM


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