Italian Summer Salad


Protein-packed, light, and full of Italian flavor, this pasta salad is a summer time-saver.

Special To The Jewish Week
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It’s summer, and it’s time for a kitchen make-under. Why sweat for hours over the stovetop when you could be done in a few minutes and enjoy your food outside?

For example: now is the time to experiment with chilled one-course meals, like pasta salads. Add vegetables and some type of protein, and you’re good to go. Enjoy on a bench in a shady spot right by your office, or pack them into the trunk and head to the beach. They keep well in the refrigerator for days, and always taste more grown-up than a simple sandwich.

In Italy, land of pasta, such salads are a warm season staple for everybody. Guess who many believe were the first to popularize them, and why? As often, all over the world, the necessities of Shabbat were the mother of invention.

The first known recipes of pasta served at room temperature are found in Jewish Italian collections, and presented as Shabbat specialties. Egg noodles dressed in Bagna Brusca (“tangy bath”, an egg, lemon and broth dressing that tastes similar to the Greek avgolemono or the Turkish agristada), or in juices leftover from roasting beef; thick whole wheat spaghetti in a garlic anchovy sauce (the Venetian bigoli in salsa); linguine in a light tomato sauce, or penne with tuna. Followed by roast meat or chicken (also served cool), and a simple dessert, these were traditionally the easy and light Italian summer answer to the ubiquitous, slow-cooked hamins and cholents.

Alessandra Rovati is an Italian food writer and lecturer based in New York. In addition to her published articles and recipes in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Joy of Kosher, and several international publications, Alessandra writes Italian-Jewish culinary history on her web site,  Alessandra  has been a featured guest on a variety of television and radio programs and has spoken at universities and cultural institutes. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more classic Jewish Italian cuisine recipes.

Italian Tuna Pasta Salad

Serves 4-6 people.

1 package pasta (penne, rigatoni or sedanini)
1 pound fresh tomatoes
2 cans oil-packed tuna, drained and broken into chunks
2 tbsp mix of freshly minced parsley, basil and majorane,
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 handful pepper-stuffed green olives, sliced
1 handful pitted black olives, sliced
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a touch of ground chili, if desired
Recipe Steps: 
To skin the tomatoes, cut a shallow “x” into the skin on the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds or until the “x’ starts to widen. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer into a bowl filled with ice water. Take out and peel the skin off with your fingers starting at the “x”.
Seed the peeled tomatoes and dice them. Place them in a large bowl with the minced herbs, the oil, salt, pepper and chili (if using). Combine well and allow to marinate for about 2 hours.
Cook the pasta until al dente (following the package instructions) in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, allow to cool, and place into the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the tuna, olives, and capers. Stir gently until well combined, adjust the salt, and serve cool or at room temperature.

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