Italian Pasta Salad

This is the time of the year when invitations for barbecues, picnics and potlucks are becoming more frequent. This week I am invited to a company potluck with barbecue and this pasta salad was my contribution.

I am not a fan of pasta salads that contain more pasta than other ingredients or of the ones that are served with a heavy mayonnaise sauce. This pasta salad is the perfect example for a better, healthier salad and it comes together in no time.

The savoury dressing (dressing is not quite the right word, it is more a savoury relish) combined with a few fresh ingredients like asparagus and rocket leaves make the perfect combination. It can be stored in an airtight container and it is even better the next day. You can put all the ingredients together and just serve it in time. It can be served as a side dish or main dish (warm or at room-temperature). You can dry different nuts, pasta variations and different cheeses as well.

I used strozapretti pasta but other variations are just fine, even a mix of different sorts is possible. Just make sure to use a sort on which the dressing sticks to perfectly.

  • 250g pasta of your choice
  • handful of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • handful of pumpkin seeds, chopped and whole for garnish
  • a big knob of parmesan cheese, grated (or a crumbly goat cheese)
  • 10 strips of bacon, roughly chopped
  • ½ garlic clove, finely grated
  • 100g fresh cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • asparagus, chopped in eatable chunks
  • basil leaves for garnish or a few rocket leaves (optional), cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

In a pan, cook the chopped onions until translucent, for about 10 minutes. Add the bacon and the tomatoes (both the dried ones and fresh ones). Add a bit of grated garlic and the chopped pumpkin seeds and stir everything for a minute. Set aside and let cool down. In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted water until tender. Use a bit more salt than usual, because the pasta needs a bit more when used in a pasta salad. Grate the parmesan cheese.

When the mixture in the pan and the pasta has cooled down a bit, combine everything and add a few more fresh tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, parmesan cheese and basil leaves.

Enjoy!

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