Summer Salad Bowl Pasta

Preparation info

  • Serves

    6

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

In summertime in Italy, hot pasta is tossed with chunks of raw dead-ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and sometimes little cubes of mozzarella and slivers of black olive. This sort of dish, quick and light, offers the flavor complexity of a sauce without the work of cooking one, plus the clean refreshment of a salad. If summer’s peak corn is available, cut the kernels from one ear and toss them in with the cheese in Step 4.

Ingredients

  • cups ripe red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • cups ripe yellow pear or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, bruised
  • 4 scallions, sliced on a sharp diagonal, white and green parts separated
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound conchigliette (tiny shells) or other very small pasta, such as ditalini, tubetti, cavatelli, or small elbow macaroni
  • 5 or 6 ounces ricotta salata, cut into very small dice, or firm goat cheese or mild feta
  • ¼ cup finely shredded basil leaves, or more to taste
  • ½ to ⅔ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Olive oil, for serving (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)

    Method

    1. Place the red and yellow tomatoes in a colander in the sink or over a plate, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for about ½ hour. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
    2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and white parts of scallion, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, just until the onion begins to wilt but is still crunchy, 7 or 8 minutes. Remove from heat, discard garlic cloves, and set aside.
    3. Add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al denote. Set, aside a ladleful of the pasta cooking liquid. When the pasta is done, transfer the tomatoes from the colander to the skillet with the vegetable mixture. Drain pasta well.
    4. Return the pasta to the pot in which it was cooked and place over medium-low heat. Add the vegetable mixture, scallion greens, ricotta salata, basil, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and about ¼ cup reserved pasta cooking liquid. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
    5. Toss everything together with 2 large spoons, heating the mixture through. As you toss, add a little more of the cooking liquid and Parmigiano-Reggiano if needed. The pasta should be just moistened with a light sauce, neither dry nor soupy; the diced ricotta salata cheese should warm through but not melt.
    6. Correct seasonings and serve immediately, drizzling each portion with a little more olive oil at the table if you like. Pass a pepper mill and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano separately, if desired.