Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sun-dried Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has been a fail-proof winner with picky eaters and gourmets alike.  You will need black olives, fresh, clean basil and sun-dried tomatoes or sun-dried tomato spread.  If you are starting from dry tomatoes, not packed in oil, you will want to soak them in warm water (or use some pasta water.)  Choose a pasta that has a lot of surface area and no interior (no shells, penne, or rigatoni).  My favorite is tri-color rotini.  Tortellini would be a real treat.  If your tomatoes are not too salty, add a generous amount of kosher salt to the pasta water.
Chop basil, slice black olives, slice or chop sun-dried tomatoes (your choice, and time permitting).  Drain pasta when it is done and put it in a large bowl.  If your tomatoes came packed in oil, add as much of this flavorful oil to the pasta as your jar can spare.  Put your fixings on the pasta while it is still warm.  Add extra-virgin olive oil, or another flavorful oil of your choice, if needed, and spices if your tomatoes are not seasoned.  Be careful, some tomatoes are already full of salt or other flavors.  Mix, taste, and assess.  If you went overboard on the salt, you can balance saltiness with a little vinegar or white wine (but it won't lower your blood pressure.)

Want to kick it up a notch?  Blend a reconstitued dry chili pepper (seeds removed) and garlic with some tomatoes, then add to the pasta.

Going to a pot-luck?  Don't bother getting a bowl dirty.  Mix all the ingredients in a large zip-top bag and transfer to a bowl when you arrive.

This salad is awesome with feta or sheeps cheese.  But I think you can never go wrong by adding cheese.  Brie, fresh mozzarella...

In America, I love the big jar of seasoned, sliced sun-dried tomatoes sold at Costco.  In Israel I dig the spread sold by Pereg.  With the excesive heat and drought, the prices for sun-dried tomatoes were looking pretty reasonable.  Maybe when tomatoes are in season and cheaper than dirt, we'll dry our own tomatoes!

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