Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunday Pasta Salad

I woke up today with the sudden desire to make a nice pasta salad - preferably in bulk so I could take it into work for lunch a few days this week. The only problem being that Sunday is our usual food shopping day, so the cupboards are usually pretty bare until we can be bothered to head to the shops. I thought I'd see what I had kicking about in the kitchen anyway, and was pleasantly surprised! So, taking my inspiration from this Jamie Oliver recipe, I decided to put my ingredients together and see if I could create a delicious pasta salad. I was really happy with the result, so thought I would share it with you. I am also getting better at thinking like a blogger, as I managed to take photos not only of the finished product, nor of the finished product and method, but actually of the raw ingredients, the method AND the finished product. Impressive or what? Yes, I thought so too.

This pasta salad is great as it feels so fresh (thanks in part, I think, to using rice vinegar - a tip from Jules at The Stone Soup [another great blog I recommend], who wrote an interesting post on different types of vinegar). Before reading that post, I just blindly followed what the recipe said in terms of what type of vinegar to use - too scared to try a substitution for fear it might ruin the dish. But as usual, Jules gives an honest, no-nonsense introduction to this subject that helped me (and will help you) to be more creative in my use of different vinegars. (Jules's guidance reassures me that never again will I spend an hour and a half traipsing around what feels like every food shop in the west end of Glasgow searching for the cider vinegar that a particular recipe calls for. Not that I have ever done such a thing, of course....!)

It's also not too oily (I use much less oil than Jamie suggests....but then again, I do find that he has a bit of an obsession with the good ol' olive oil, and it's usually safe to use about half of what he suggests). I used artichokes on a whim as I had them in the fridge, but as they were stored in a jar of oil, I drained them on kitchen roll before adding them to the salad. Again, this helps to keep the whole thing nice and light and summery (perhaps the lovely weather today was what inspired me to try this out, come to think of it).

So without further ado, I give you my pasta salad.

150g tricolore fusilli
300g cherry tomatoes
1/4 cucumber
a good handful of stoned black olives
a good handful of artichoke pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh chives
a handful of fresh basil
5 tsp olive oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste


Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and garlic cloves (unpeeled). Whilst the pasta is cooking, chop the cucumber, tomatoes, artichokes and olives. I like to chop them all pretty small, as you can see from the picture below, but you can make them as chunky as you like, if you prefer a bit more bite to your salad. Also, finely chop your herbs.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain it and remove the garlic cloves. Put the pasta in a serving bowl. (I like to pat it dry with a bit of kitchen roll, too, to avoid the salad being too watery, and also because it helps the dressing to 'cling' better to the pasta.) Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and mash them up. If you have a mortar and pestle, now is the time to use them, but if, like me, you don't, a small bowl or ramekin and teaspoon/fork works just fine. Add the oil and vinegar, then salt and pepper, and mix well. Mix the dressing into the salad and you're ready to serve it up!

I also, feeling experimental, tried some of the salad with a little mayonnaise mixed in, and it was really good too. If you want a slightly richer tasting salad, I'd recommend the mayo route. Otherwise, just the oil and vinegar dressing is really all you need - completely delicious!

I should point out that the above quantities make enough for two portions (if you're eating it as a light lunch), so if you're wanting to make enough for a few days or a few people, I'd suggest doubling the above. (The only reason I made so little was due to the whole 'cupboards being bare' situation I mentioned earlier!)

Let me know what you think if you make this!


  1. Looks lovely. Jamie does love a lug of oil! Does the garlic cooking with the pasta give it a nice garlicky taste?

    I know you said you used a different type of vinegar, but I think for ingredients like that, Waitrose is pretty good and not as expensive as you would think.

    Anna x

    1. I know, he really can take it a little too far for my liking - I don't like my food swimming in a sea of oil!

      Good tip about Waitrose, but on this occasion I deliberately substituted the rice vinegar as I knew it would give it a fresher taste. But I must have a look in Waitrose for some more oils one day - I always assume it'll be so expensive so hardly go in! X


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