Oh I do so love summer cooking. We are so blessed to have beautiful fresh produce available to us in the summer months and this delicious pasta salad is designed to make the best use possible of some of it. Ripe and juicy garden tomatoes, zippy & earthy basil, fresh sweet peppers . . .
When I lived in Meaford Ontario, there was a bargain bookshop just on the outskirts of town that I used to love to visit. It had a lot of really unusual cookery books in it, out of print, old, etc. I picked this book up in that shop and it is filled to overflowing with tasty recipes. There are no photographs, but sometimes you just know a book is going to be good even without photographs and you take a chance on it. This recipe is one I adapted from that book!
Its quite different than the usual macaroni salad. There is no mayonnaise, or creamy dressing . . . there is simply a well flavoured and garlicky Balsamic vinaigrette.
I love, LOVE Balsamic vinegar. I could eat it with a spoon. Make sure you use a good quality one. It doesn't have to be the most expensive one, but don't ever be tempted to use the cheapest one either. Find something good somewhere in the middle . . . . on the side of expensive if need be.
I love tubular macaroni without any curves for this salad. It holds the dressing very well . . .
The roasted peppers add another exciting texture and flavour. Today I did not have a large red pepper, but I did have a small one and a small yellow one. I roasted both and used them in the salad with spectacular results.
Fresh basil . . . I love basil, especially when it is fresh from the garden. I could just bury my nose in it and inhale (and frequently do!). I don't chop my basil with a knife, that only bruises it. I roll it up into a cigar shape and then snip it with my kitchen scissors and then I tear the basil for on top.
If you have a few tiny leaf bunches, leave them intact for show. So pretty. I know that the Italians are fond of using toasted bread crumbs with their pasta dishes, sometimes instead of cheese. This recipe does just that . . . and to good effect. These garlic crumbs add a lovely touch, crunch and texture as well.
*Summer Macaroni Salad*with
A simple macaroni salad which makes the best of our summer's bounty, with a lovely balsamic vinaigrette, and a crisp garlic bread crumb topping.
1/2 tsp olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp minced garlic
You will also need:
1 1/2 TBS chopped basilsalt and black pepper to taste
Put all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a glass jar with a screw top. Screw the top on and shake. Set aside.
Roast the pepper. Cut it into quarters, discarding any ribs, seeds and the top. Place onto a foil lined baking tray. Pop under a hot grill, six inches from the heat, skin side up, and grill for about 8 minutes until the skins have blackened. Remove and bring the sides of the foil up to cover the roasted pepper. Seal and set aside. (Note - today I only had a small red pepper and so I also roasted a yellow pepper.)
Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Remove and discard any seeds and watery flesh. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss in with the macaroni. Remove the peppers from the foil. Slip off the blackened skin and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss in with the macaroni and tomatoes.
Heat the olive oil for the crumbs in a large skillet. Add the crumbs and season with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until they just begin to turn golden brown. Toss in the garlic, and cook for a minute or so longer, until very fragrant. Be careful not to leave them on the heat too long or they will burn. As soon as they really start to colour, you need to tip them out into a bowl. If left in the pan they will continue to cook. Allow to cool.
Shake the vinaigrette again and pour it over the macaroni mixture, tossing to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Pour into a serving bowl. Sprinkle half of the bread crumbs over top and scatter with the basil. Pass the remaining bread crumbs at the table.
Great with grilled meats, chicken and fish! (Or dare I say it . . . on it's own!)
Altogether this is a truly beautiful salad that I know you are going to enjoy. It screams summer, and summer at its very best! It wouldn't be half as good any other time of the year. Make it now while the warmth of the summer sunshine still gilds your tomatoes and peppers, and enjoy! Bon Appetit!