When summer is here I immediately start thinking about what kind of un-cooking I can do. Here in California it gets pretty hot during the summers, so when it’s 108 degrees, the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven if I can avoid it. I am trying to think of new ways to make salads or cold pastas or pasta salads, which my kids will enjoy as well as myself so I am not making 2 dinners in 1 night. My kids are super picky and it is hard to get them to eat right (what kid isn’t right?!)
I found that by using Acini De Pepe pasta, it doesn’t fill you up like larger pasta does. It is fun to cook with and the kids enjoy eating it because it is not the traditional spaghetti pasta and they like how it looks, they feel like they are eating something other than pasta salad.
The next thing on my list of un-cooked food, is finding out what is in season. I love summer; all the best veggies and fruits are out. For me, I love tomatoes and basil and olive oil. I could eat that every day if my kids would too! At any rate, I decided to try a combo of these favs with the “cool” pasta salad idea and it turned out great! The only addition I made this time was adding a new fav of mine, KALAMATA olives. I have to admit, when I was a kid, putting the olives on my fingers and eating them was fun. At Thanksgiving and Christmas while my mom and I got the hours de vours plates together. But that is where my love of olives stopped. In fact as an adult, I never eat olives. Maybe on a pizza if that is what someone else orders, otherwise nope! This past month my aunt came for a visit and we went to a place that had olive tasting. (I’m thinking EEWW!) Turned out to be the best day ever! I came away with a new appreciation of olives and a new palate for them as well. (not to mention several jars for eating!)
The next time I made my Pearly Salad, I included the olives and I was even more in love with this summer time dish than before.
Pineapple, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives
I love creating food and letting the flavor mull around on my palate and deciding, what exactly do I taste in here, what could I do better next time, this is awesome! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family has and you can really make it about you and your favorite summer time veggies that you love. Add some fresh zucchini matchsticks in there, or slice up some mushrooms, use extra sharp cheese in place of the feta cheese, add some browned pine nuts for a crunch on top. Go ahead, PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD, tell them I said it’s ok!
1 lb Acini De Pepe Pasta
1 bunch Basil, chiffonade
6 ounces Kalamata Olives pitted and chopped
5 Oz Feta Cheese, fresh or already chopped
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes quartered
1/4 cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Parmeseano Reggiano cheese, grated fine
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 whole pineapple
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
- In a large pot bring water to a rolling boil then add a palm-full of salt, add pasta and cook as directed on package, shy 1-2 minutes or until Al Dente. Drain and let cool.
- While pasta is cooling, get together the following in a separate large bowl; add olive oil, tomatoes, basil, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and toss ensuring an even coating on everything. If using, add fresh ground pepper and or salt. After the pasta has cooled, add pasta to the above mixture and combine until well mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or you can eat as is if hungry!
- When serving, make sure to toss one more time as olive oil will settle on bottom, and garnish with additional basil and Parmeseano Reggiano cheese on top.
- Remove peel from outside of pineapple and keep whole. Slice in whole round slices as shown. Take 4 rounds and place in sauté pan with ½ of butter. Top with ¼ of the brown sugar on each round, when pineapple begins to soften and brown flip over and add another ¼ of brown sugar. Continue to cook until bubbly and browned and caramelized. Continue with remaining pineapple slices.
- Serve salad on top of 1-2 pineapple slices.