What are the summer dishes you prepare most often?
My list is long enough but don’t think about elaborate dishes. Cold pasta and salad are among my favorites, confirming a clear preference for recipes where seasonal ingredients are the protagonists, often, in all their genuine simplicity.
Cold pasta: simple but not boring.
The recipes in my summer repertoire are numerous. But before choosing what to cook, I think about occasion, number of guests and temperature.
To nourish family and friends with love we don’t have to prove that we are exceptional cooks through wonderful dishes. Home cooking is not the cuisine of a starred restaurant and we aren’t competitors of a Tv Food Show like Master Chef.
And what’s more, we don’t have a kitchen brigade to help us.
This means that we can choose easy dishes and simple, fresh flavors.
Then simplicity shouldn’t make the pair with banality.
How to escape this danger?
By avoiding serving an anonymous cold pasta in a bowl where you mix the ingredients at random or, even worse, ingredients taken at random from the fridge. The same goes for the preparation of vegetables, rice or spelt salads.
I cook and offer with pleasure cold pasta and salad, two solutions that arise in home kitchens to give breath to the azdora (with this term I mean the woman one time was the cook and the head of the family together her husband). These are dishes that require little time and can be prepared in advance or at the last minute but without hassle.
Before I leave you with three cold pasta recipes from my summer repertoire, I would like to share two tips that I hope will be useful to you to offer an excellent Italian cold pasta.
Things to do to avoid that cold pasta pairs with sadness.
Recycling in the kitchen is a must, but not all occasions are right to serve leftovers.
If you are thinking of offering a cold pasta, give dignity to the dish keeping the zero-waste-mood for another moment. This is also the reason why many people don’t love cold pasta salads. In fact, finding yourself in front of a dish that is gathered together, little or too much seasoned and not-well assembled, don’t make you hungry.
Use few ingredients determining the prevailing flavor you want to give to the pasta. Choose and follow a recipe or your inspiration but, in this case, write down the ingredients and procedure, think about whether the flavours are in harmony with each other and don’t proceed randomly. Very simply deciding when to mix the cold pasta with the sauce can make a big difference.
And finally, don’t forget the presentation. Use a ceramic bowl instead of plastic, cut or slice the ingredients carefully. Only after mixing pasta and sauce, add decorative elements that may end up at the bottom and get lost. In short, also remember the aesthetics of the dish.
Three cold pasta recipes.
Alla Checca, with a special tomato sauce and with salmon.
These are recipes suitable for the family, for when you have guests, or simply it’s too hot or you’re on holiday: two of three are sauces you can make while cooking pasta.
Pasta alla Checca and that with the salmon sauce are recipes I call pasta salads: all raw and no more than chopping. For the salmon pasta I chose to use a whole wheat pasta format that I don’t cook that often.
The recipe for pasta with the butterfly shape is more rich. Always quick and easy, it can to be considered a real cold pasta. If you scroll through the steps of the recipe, you’ll see that they are a quick sequence to put the ingredients in the blender glass. You just have to dip fresh tomatoes in the cooking water of the pasta for a few minutes to peel them. If you prefer to simplify further, blend the raw tomatoes with the other ingredients.
Among the three, the recipe for pasta alla Checca has a history. It’s a recipe of Roman origin that probably owes its name to the cook who invented it. It’s funny but I learned to appreciate it thanks to my husband who used to eat it in the summer thanks to a grandma who had a passion for the cooking and knew all the Italian cuisine well, also for having travelled all over Italy following a father who was Prefect of the Kingdom of Italy.
The characteristic of this dish is that it must have the scent and taste of garlic, otherwise it would be a Caprese Pasta Salad, but in a clever way. You have to marinate a couple of cloves of garlic with fresh tomatoes for a few hours or a night in a food container. Before seasoning the pasta, remove the garlic and believe me if I tell you that in this way it leaves a good taste but without staying in your mouth.
Buona cucina, Monica
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Pasta alla Checca Recipe
320 g short pasta
6 San Marzano tomatoes or favorite ones
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil and salt
mozzarella, if you want
Make the sauce the day before tossing the pasta: the marinade needs time. Wash and cut the tomatoes into small pieces. Season with plenty of olive oil and salt and add the garlic.
Put the marinade in an airtight container, close it and let it rest in the fridge.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water.
In the meantime, wash the basil and set aside.
Drain the pasta and season with a little of oil.
Remove the garlic, add tomatoes to the pasta with their sauce and lots of fresh basil.
Stir and serve.
If you want to add mozzarella fior di latte, do it at the last minute.
Cold Pasta With Tasty Salsa di Pomodoro
320 g butterflies
8 San Marzano tomatoes, ripe
1 teaspoon capers
8 green olives, pitted
6 dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of pasta cooking water
some basil leaves
10 hazelnuts without peel, but also pistachios or nuts
olive oil and salt
Put the dried tomatoes in warm water for a few minutes.
Toast the hazelnuts in a small pan then reduce them roughly to crumbs and set aside.
In the meantime rinse capers and olives under running water, dab with kitchen paper and set aside.
Also wash the basil leaves and always keep them aside.
Prepare the glass of the immersion blender, or a bowl. Put capers, olives, basil, tomato paste, olive oil and 3 sun-dried tomatoes in the glass and set aside.
Chop the other dried tomatoes and add the crumbled hazelnuts.
Put a pot with hot water on the heat, salt the water immediately and bring to the boil.
Wash the fresh tomatoes and dip them in the boiling water pot. After a minute or two of the water boils, use a ladle to drain them. Set aside and throw the pasta in the boiling water.
Put the tomatoes under fresh water for a moment, remove the skin, cut them into pieces and put them in the glass of the immersion blender with the other ingredients. Blend until you have a creamy sauce.
Add to the sauce a ladle of water from the pasta cooking and stir. One or two ladles, depending on how thick or more fluid you like it!
Drain the pasta, season with the sauce, add in chopped hazelnuts and dried tomatoes and bring to the table with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese separately.
You can leave the pasta already seasoned in the fridge, ready to be served. Or keep the pasta separate from the sauce but, in this case, keep the sauce in the fridge.
Recipe Wholemeal Fusilli With Salmon and Chives
320 g pasta
80 g smoked salmon
40 g chives
a few drops of lemon and half a natural lemon rind
While the water for pasta starts to boil, make the sauce.
Cut the salmon into thin slices and reduce it to crumbs and set aside.
In a cup, mix two tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon drops.
Wash and cut the chives with kitchen scissors and set aside.
When the pasta is ready, drain and cool under running water.
Season the pasta with the lemon and oli vinaigrette, salmon, grated lemon zest, chives and serve.
You can season before serving but keep the pasta in the fridge.