Weekday Vegetarian: Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olivada


Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Of course, the story for the past week was the unremitting heat. One of the great things to serve on a hot day is a pasta salad. You make it ahead of time, and let the flavours meld together and then serve it at room temperature.We had company for the weekend, so I made this as part of a little salad buffet. During the weekend we also had a version of the grilled watermelon salad that I wrote about last week, and I introduced my guests to the joys of cooking radishes.

I'm a sucker for piquant flavours, so anything with capers and olives in it works for me, and I really liked this pasta salad. It was also quite good the next day, which is often not the case with this kind of dish. The cheese and tomato base put me in mind a bit of one of our family favourites, pasta with brie and tomatoes. In that recipe, the pasta is put over the tomato and cheese as soon as it is cooked and the brie melts, making the sauce. In this case, you add the pasta once it has cooled down, but the acidity of the tomatoes breaks the cheese down a bit. I used little mini bocconcini, but a buffalo mozzarella or even brie would be delicious in this.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, July 2010. I didn't have quite as much olive as the recipe calls for and I used fresh basil rather than oregano. I left out the anchovy paste to make it vegetarian. I don't have a food processor with me, so I chopped everything by hand, so I didn't get the paste effect but it was still delicious.

Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olivada

1 garlic clove, peeled
2 cups coarsely chopped pitted green olives (from about 6 ounces unpitted whole olives), divided
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound gemelli, fusilli, or rotelle pasta
2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
1 8-ounce package small (cherry-size) fresh mozzarella balls in water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1. With machine running, add garlic clove to processor through feed tube and process until finely chopped; turn off machine. Add 1 cup chopped olives, capers, red wine vinegar, anchovy paste, mustard, and crushed red pepper. Process to chop coarsely. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil, forming coarse puree. Transfer to bowl; stir in remaining 1 cup olives. Season olivada to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Transfer drained pasta to large bowl. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over pasta; toss to coat. Cool, stirring occasionally.

3. Add olivada, halved tomatoes, mozzarella, and oregano to pasta; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Roasted Red Potato Salad with Parsley Pine-Nut Pesto

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