In my experience Italians are pretty hot, but it’s summer and I’m the boss of my kitchen, so this is one Italian dish that will be served cold. At least at my house.
Honestly I don’t know if actual Italians make anything like this, but most of these ingredients are something I associate with Italian cooking, so there you go. It’s Italian. Sort of. Italian-ish. Or maybe it’s just April-ish. However you want to describe its origins, it is delicious, refreshing and I just couldn’t get enough of it.
At farmers market I stumbled upon a homemade pasta that was described as the “pesto blend.” It contained several flavored pastas, including a sun-dried tomato pasta, garlic-pepper pasta, and basil pasta. I think there may have been one other kind in there as well. In any case, the subtle flavors were a nice addition to this recipe. Feel free to experiment with flavored pastas or just use a tri-color rotini or regular pasta if you prefer.
Italian-ish Pasta Salad
8 oz. tri-colored rotini or other small shaped pasta
2 cups broccoli florets
3 tbsp. olive oil
5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. each of salt & pepper
1/4 cup sliced red onion
A pinch of crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. capers
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 cup black olive halves
1 orange bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I use the ones packed in olive oil)
2 oz. muenster cheese, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup chopped dry Italian salami (optional, leave out for a vegetarian meal)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5-6 minutes. Then add the broccoli to the pot with the pasta and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Drain and rinse with cold water until it’s all cool. Set aside. In a serving bowl combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red onion, salt & pepper, garlic, capers, and dijon mustard. Whisk until well blended. Add olives, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, salami and basil. Stir to blend well with the dressing. Add pasta and broccoli and toss gently until well coated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt & pepper if needed. At this point you can refrigerate it for a while to chill completely or just go ahead and dig in. This is one that tastes even better after it sits and mingles for a bit. The next day it’s even more fantastic.