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My affair with Italian food and Mediterranean flavors began on my first summer trip to the boot-shaped country.
I quickly discovered my love for pasta with tomato flavor profiles, as well as other ingredients so widely used in Italian cuisine like olives and artichokes.
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy and delicious food lifestyle to follow – it balances a range of fresh foods, healthy oils, and carbohydrates.
Now that it’s summer time here, I wanted to cook a dish that incorporates these fresh flavors of Italy I love so much – I decided to make this chilled Sicilian pasta salad!
I’ve used penne today, but you can use other types of smaller shapes. Farfalle, cavatelli, and fusilli are all great alternatives.
You can use store-bought varieties, or use your own homemade pasta recipe!
Along with fragrant garlic, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, and green beans, I’ve also added sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and fresh herbs to give the dish more oomph.
When the salad is ready, mix in freshly grated cheese and serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.
It’s a deliciously flavorful salad that is perfect for sharing with your family and friends, especially since summertime means firing up that grill for plenty of parties and potlucks.
Ready to cook this? Let’s get to the recipe now!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Get Your Ingredients Ready
Measure out the pasta needed.
Set out the garlic cloves, onion, red bell pepper, parsley, basil leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, black pepper, sea salt, zucchini, green beans, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, and cheese.
Measure the olive oil, white wine, and tomato paste.
Step 2 – Mince, Dice, and Chop
Mince the garlic and herbs with a sharp knife. Dice the onions, red bell pepper, and zucchini. Chop the green beans, sun dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.
Step 3 – Cook the Pasta
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook accordingly until al dente. Drain and run cold water over it to ensure that it stops cooking. Toss in one teaspoon of olive oil.
It’s important that you don’t overcook the penne, or it will become mushy.
Step 4 – Saute the Garlic, Onions and Bell Peppers
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil.
When the oil is hot, add the garlic, onions, and bell peppers. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions and bell peppers are tender.
Step 5 – Prepare the Tomato Puree
Combine the tomato paste with the water in a small bowl and mix well until you get a thin liquid.
Add the tomato puree, wine, herbs, black pepper and salt to the skillet, and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Step 6 – Add the Other Veggies and Penne
Add the zucchini and green beans, and let them cook for a couple of minutes until they soften. Add the sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, and olives (roast the olives for even more bold flavors!). Toss briefly for a minute or two.
Finally, add the penne and mix well until everything is evenly distributed. Chill for a couple of hours before mixing in freshly grated cheese and garnishing with basil leaves.
Serve and enjoy!
A Filling and Refreshing Meal
This salad is ideal for the warm summer days.
It’s not only delicious to eat, but it’s also simple to make and keeps you full. I like bringing it to a potluck party as you can whip up a big batch of it for sharing, and it’s easy to transport in any large plastic container or a picnic basket!
If you love this recipe, we have plenty more cool and flavorful salads like it! Read our article explaining the 5 steps to perfecting your pasta salad game.
And if you’re looking for more cool and refreshing foods to serve this summer, check out our round up of 15 cool foods for hot weather!
What sort of pasta salads do you usually make? Which ingredients do you usually use? Let us know in the comments below or try some of our other favorites:
- Fresh Tomato
- Grilled Tomato and Broccolini Pasta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Butternut Squash and Kale
- Creamy Greek Shrimp and Vegetable
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Photos by Felicia Lim, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Felicia Lim
Felicia Lim is a Singaporean who moved to Argentina for love. Based in Buenos Aires, also known as “the Paris of South America,” she fills her days with freelance writing, recipe development, and food photography – three passions that give her endless joy. When she isn’t typing away at her computer, cooking in the kitchen, or shooting in her balcony-studio, you can probably find her curled up on the couch, lost in the pages of a good book.