Although I love pasta salad, I rarely make it. I don’t often have time to let the pasta cool sufficiently in the evenings, and at the weekends we’re usually so rushed ‘relaxing’ that we always end up throwing things together last minute. But last Sunday we’d invited my parents round for lunch, and so I cooked the pasta while my coffee was brewing for breakfast.
I ended up making enough for a small army, enough for three more generous lunches. For this recipe I reduced the amount of pasta I’m recommending, but really it comes down to personal preference. If you want a really super hearty lunch, make more pasta but remember to amp up the veggie quotient as well!
300 g fusilli or eliche pasta (50 g per person)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium head broccoli, roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
150 g Kalamata olives, pitted
200 g cherry tomatoes, halved
400 g cannellini beans, cooked (or 1 tin)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, thoroughly washed
several handfuls fresh spinach, thoroughly washed
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
To a large saucepan, add 500 ml water per person (so if you are cooking for 6, 3 lt) and bring to a rolling boil. Before you add the pasta, salt the water liberally and add some olive oil. My cousin, Italian and a marvellous cook, insists that the only way to properly oil a saucepan for pasta is to drizzle two wide circles and finish with a slash through the middle.
Cook the pasta until it is al dente, following the instructions that come with whatever pasta you’re using, and drain. Here in the UK, pasta tends to only take about 10 minutes, but I remember in Canada pasta always seemed to take YEARS to cook. (That may be because when you’re very small EVERYTHING takes ages when you’re looking forward to it.)
Put the past to one side and allow to cool.
In a frying pan or skillet, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and gently saute till just translucent. Add the garlic and broccoli, increase the heat and saute till the broccoli is that lovely fresh bright green. Remove from the heat.
Add the cooked veggies to the pasta, then add the spinach, parsley leaves, olives and cannellini beans and mix together in the saucepan.
In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until well blended.
When you’re ready to eat, stir in half the dressing until the ingredients are evenly coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and bring to the table with the rest of the dressing in a separate vessel, for you and your fellow diners to dress the salad to taste.
Best served with a spread of grilled halloumi, some carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus and pitta crisps.