This cold pasta is a summer festival in a bowl: delicious, crunchy sweet corn, earthy pan-roasted zucchini, refreshing fresh herbs, salty feta cheese… and most of all, the amazingly flavorful heirlooms. The Black Russian, Pruden’s Purple or any red heirloom beefsteak tomatoes will be marvelous in this dish.
Since the pasta has to stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (preferably 30) for all the flavors to mingle, the pasta will absorb more liquid and have a tendency to lose its al dente-ness. Undercooking the pasta by one minute will guarantee yours stays toothy.
A medium-bodied red with good acidity, like a Dolcetto d’Alba or a Barbera (both from Piedmont), is ideal for this summery pasta. These two varietals are light enough to not overpower the dish but have enough vibrancy and depth to pair well with the diverse flavors of the vegetables and the tanginess of the cheese.
Pasta salad with heirloom tomatoes, pan-roasted zucchini, fresh corn and goat-milk feta
serves 4 to 6
active time: 45 min
For the pan-roasted zucchinis
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 baby zucchinis (about 6″ long) – ends trimmed and cut in 1/2″ dices
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the pasta
- 2 ears fresh sweet corn – husks removed
- 2 garlic cloves – skinned and crushed (use microplane grater)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lbs (905 g) red, purple or black heirloom tomatoes – seeded and cut in 1/2″ dices
- 1 bunch fresh chives – cut in 1/4″ slices (use kitchen scissors)
- 24 large basil leaves – torn in 1″ pieces
- 1 tablespoon sea salt for the pasta water
- 1 lb (455 g) mezzi rigatoni, penne rigate, ziti or ditali pasta
- 7 oz (200 g) goat milk feta cheese – crumbled
- small basil leaves as garnish
- Step 1: Heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and zucchinis. Sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden-brown, tossing only occasionally. Sprinkle with the salt. Toss again and transfer to a bowl to cool. Set aside.
- Step 2: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the corn and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from pot and transfer to a bowl filled with cold water. As soon as the corn has cooled, transfer to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, shave the kernels from the corn. Set aside.
- Step 3: In a large bowl, place the garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil. Whisk until well blended. Add the corn, tomatoes, chives and basil. Toss until well mixed and set aside.
- Step 4: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions, until very al dente – about 1 minute less than what package calls for. Drain and rinse with cold water until cooled. Shake off the excess water. Add to the tomato mixture. Mix well and let stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
- Step 5: When ready to serve – Add the pan-roasted zucchini to the pasta and stir well. Spoon pasta into individual bowls or a large serving platter. Crumble the feta on top and garnish with small basil leaves. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.