I have been craving pasta salad for about a week now. But we were busy last week so I didn’t really have a chance to make any until Saturday. I went out into the garden and found a couple of yellow squash that looked ready to be picked. It turned out they could’ve used a little longer on the vine (the skin was tough and the seeds still had some green around them). But I used it anyway and it was okay… I think we mostly picked around the squash.
Some mozzarella in the fridge that needed to be used up and a couple of tomatoes on the counter found their way into the salad. I picked a handful of basil which became a garlicky pesto that was nice on a baguette but really good mixed into the pasta. It was the perfect light dinner after our salami and cheese lunch out on the trail.
We were going to a picnic the next day, but while the batch I made with the garden squash was good enough for me and Dan to eat, I wasn’t comfortable serving the under-ripe squash to others. I wound up making another batch using zucchini and yellow squash from the produce market. It was a great side to hamburgers and hot dogs out in the park.
This is a good salad for those outdoor summer parties when a mayonnaise based potato or pasta salad might get questionable out in the heat (don’t get me wrong, I like the mayo-based salads too. But warm mayo is icky).
Garden fresh pasta salad
3-4 tablespoons pesto (recipe below… store bought is fine too)
mozzarella (boccocini aka the small balls packed in water or whey or just regular mozzarella cut into chunks)
tomato (grape tomatoes cut in half, or a larger tomato or two, diced)
zucchini and/or yellow squash (about two medium or one large), cut into short strips about the size of your pasta (I used rotini or fusilli)
pasta: fusilli, rotini, or whatever you have on hand… 1 package
1. Cook pasta in salted water for the time on the package (I like to add 2-3 big pinches of salt to the boiling water).
2. About 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add the squash to the pot.
3. Drain and toss with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside to cool (or not… if you don’t let it cool, the mozzarella will melt a little which really isn’t so bad but for taking to a party I like to let it cool so that everything is still recognizable).
4. Toss the tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto into the pasta.
about 1 to 1 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 to 1 clove of garlic (depending on how garlicky you want)
about 1 tablespoon of pistachios
a pinch of salt
about 1/4 cup of olive oil
1. In a blender or food processor (the food processor worked better for me, but the blender worked too with a little coercion), pulse basil, pistachios, garlic, salt and about half of the olive oil.
2. When it is all minced up, add a little more olive oil until it is the consistency you like (more if you like thinner pesto).
3. Use right away or place in a plastic container with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface, store in the refrigerator.