Eating Light and Fresh - Tuna and Artichoke Pasta Salad

Published on Thu, 08/10/2017 - 8:15am

This time of year, who wants to be in the kitchen? Not me! Even though my house is air-conditioned, just looking at the heat waves shimmering off the sidewalk makes me want to find something cool and easy to cook. 

I take a hint from my Italian heritage. When temperatures outside begin to warm up, our appetites change. We naturally desire less heavy foods that comfort us when the cold winds blow in autumn and winter. It’s often hotter in the kitchen so we enjoy grilling outside more, baking less, and eating lighter foods. To eat lighter (leggero in Italian) is the norm in Italy.    

Chilled pasta salads appear more on Italian tables prepared with more raw ingredients with more intense colors from the lack of cooking.   Rice and seafood salads are served more as well in warmer weather.   

No cooking, almost 

For the dog-day, hot and humid days of August, I'm sharing a very easy,  “no-cook, no-bake” recipe:  Tuna and Artichoke Pasta Salad. 

The only cooking involved is boiling water for the pasta. While the pasta is boiling in a tall pot of salted water, chop up the remaining ingredients. Do not overcook the pasta—in fact, cook it less-than-al dente, about 6 minutes. Run cold water over the pasta immediately to stop the cooking. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pasta to prevent the noodles from sticking together.   

Toss everything together in a large bowl without the tuna and vinaigrette.The more you stir, the creamier the pasta becomes because of the soft chèvre cheese releasing cream onto the ingredients. 

Place on individual salad plates. Or, place the whole salad on a pretty platter with chunks of tuna placed on the top. 

Tuna and Artichoke Pasta Salad 

Ingredients

4 cups mini-farfalle pasta, cooked very al dente, and chilled 

6 oz. imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil, save about 1Tbsp. olive oil 

1 can baby artichokes, cut into quarters 

6 oz. chèvre/goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic 

¼ cup sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (use your favorite vinaigrette) 

⅓ cup diced pimentos and juices 

½ cup pitted, sliced Castelvetrano olives 

½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips 

⅔ cup chopped red onions 

2 cups cherry tomatoes (preferably mini San Marzanos, if possible), sliced 

⅓ cup slivered almonds 

sprigs of fresh basil leaves for garnish 

Instructions: 

Combine all ingredients. 

Place full romaine leaves on individual salad plates or large serving platter. 

Arrange all of the salad ingredients on top of romaine leaves. 

Garnish with sprigs of basil leaves. 

Serve immediately after plating with your favorite sun-dried tomato vinaigrette passed around to your guests. 

Notes:   

The chèvre/goat cheese is very creamy, so you need to pull of little bits with your (clean) fingers and mix them into the salad or place them on the top of a platter of pasta salad. 

For flavor, I add all of the juice from the tiny jar of diced pimentos and a little dash from the artichokes and olive jars. 

I recommend passing the vinaigrette around or have a small bowl by the platter for guests to serve themselves. This salad can stand on it's own without the vinaigrette, but adding just a drizzle of it is very nice. Do not overpour the vinaigrette or it will overpower the salad.