Pasta Salad


 

“Pasta all’Insalata”

 

“Pasta a ‘nzalata”

 

This pasta is a very handy dish to prepare if you’re giving a party.
It can be prepared in advance and with some ingenuity and imagination, using the ingredients available in your pantry and your refrigerator you will make a Pasta Salad for the pleasure and hearty enjoyment of you and your guests.
The pasta salad was originally prepared because it was a dish you could eat cold, being dressed with vinegar and oil it could be preserved for the next day. Around 800 AD. and in the next few centuries, in Sicily there was tolerance and freedom of religion,along with Christians and Moslems there were many Jewish colonies living and prospering in the Island.

Because of religious observances, the Jewish people could not cook on the Sabbaths or other holidays, therefore they had to prepare and cook on the eve for the following day. In this period new dishes were created, others modified and the Sicilian Cuisine was enriched by le schiacciate, a sort of thin round bread folded in half and stuffed with meat, fish or cheese, delicious the next day. The Jewish cuisine utilized the vinegar and lemon juice to preserve food and honey to make their dishes palatable. They produced new varieties of the sweet-sour sauces needed to preserve the meat, fish or vegetables overnight and when pasta and rice became available they prepared it as a salad which became popular when it was discovered that it could be preserved overnight and that it was tastier on the following day than the day it was prepared. 
Those dishes were well-liked and became part of Sicilian cooking.

Some cooks add to the pasta or rice salad diced mortadella, salami or shrimps; I prefer the following meatless recipe because it’s delicious, light and energizing.  

 

Serves 10 to 12

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. pasta mezze penne di ziti or bowties or spirals or use rice
  • 1 lb. of ripe fresh cherry tomatoes, washed, cut in half, and sprinkled with salt
  • 1 lb. Provoletta cheese cut in ¾ inch cubes
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lb baby carrots, sliced   
  • 1 lb. petit peas  
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, separated into florets and rinsed a few times
  • ½ lb. pitted black olives, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 10 chopped basil leaves 
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon
  • pinch of oregano
  • red crushed pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • Basil leaves to garnish

 

Preparation

The Vegetables
Bring to a boil 5 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon of salt.
Blanch the peas in the boiling water and set aside.
Using the same water blanch the broccoli and lastly the carrots.

 

                   Cherry TomatoesScallionsBroccoli

 

The Dressing
In a small bowl, combine oil and juice of the lemon, a few pinches of pepper, ¼ tea spoons of salt, oregano, red crushed pepper and whisk slightly. Add chopped basil and blend it in. Set aside.

 

               Olive OilOreganoCondimentsDiced Cheese

 

The Pasta Salad
In a large pot bring to a boil 8 quarts of water and 3 tablespoon of salt. Cook pasta al dente, following the package’s direction.
Drain pasta, rinse with cold water and transfer into a large bowl. Add the dressing, cubed cheese, vegetables and the remaining ingredients.
Toss gently to blend thoroughly.

Taste for salt and pepper and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

 

                             Pasta Salad

 

Garnish with basil leaves, serve at room temperature.

You can add sliced hot dogs, boiled shrimps, leftover cold cut, turkey, etc. or use your imagination and good taste adding any food that you like.

 

                             Bowtie Pasta Salad