Tasty cold pasta.

Background of the recipe:

Ingredients for a cold pasta dish of tomatoes, large leaf basil and pasta shells
Simple ingredients of tomatoes, Large leaf basil and pasta shells

We were served this free dish in Varese in Lombardy, Northern Italy in a small bar whilst having a drink of chilled white wine.

The bar owner served it to us in tiny terracotta coloured earthen ware pots similar to tapas and was obviously meant as just a small tasty treat.

We thought it was so simple and refreshingly flavoursome especially on a hot day, that we would share the recipe with you.

The best thing is we reckon you could put this tasty meal together for less than £1 per person and if you have some bored kids about, get them helping to make it, it really is child’s play to make.

Ingredient details for tasty cold pasta:

As the name suggests, this is a cold dish not hot but there is some cooking involved but only the pasta itself which is very easy to do.

The following is for one person, depending how hungry you are!

1 cup of dry pasta shells or a handful

5 fresh basil leaves. Dried basil will not work with this recipe as it is too hard and gritty so are not very nice to eat

Pan of hot salty water. Salt is optional

Pan of cold water

4 cherry tomatoes

5 table spoons of virgin olive oil

Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

This really is a simple pasta dish.

  1. Heat a pan of clean water and when the water is bubbling and boiling add a tea spoon of salt.
  2. The amount of water should be enough to fully cover the pasta.
  3. If this means the water level is within 1 inch or 25 mm from the top of the pan, use a larger pan so water doesn’t boil.
  4. Check the cooking instructions on the pasta pack. They usually take about 8 to 12 minutes to cook.
  5. Carefully add the pasta to the boiling water.
  6. Stir the pasta occasionally during the cooking time and make sure the water keeps at a gentle boil. You can tell if everything is okay as the pasta shells will tumble about of their own accord in the boiling water.
  7. Whilst the pasta is cooking, use a sharp knife and cut each cherry tomato into 4 pieces (about the size of your thumb nail) and place to one side.
  8. Next tear the basil leaves into small ragged pieces and place to one side. We recommend that you do not use a knife as it bruises the edges of the basil leaves and makes them go darker. They taste okay, they just don`t look as good.
  9. When the pasta cooking time has finished, carefully remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot pasta and water through a sieve so the hot water goes down the sink and leaves the pasta in the sieve.
  10. Now fill the same pan up with cold fresh water and pour the hot pasta back into the pan.
  11. The cold water should cover the pasta. Stir the hot pasta so the cold water reaches each shell.
  12. This will stop the pasta cooking any further and keep it with the al dente characteristic where you can feel a slight resistance when you bite into the pasta.
  13. Leave the pasta to cool for 10 minutes then pour through the sieve again to remove the cold water.
  14. Shake off as much water as possible.
  15. Now it is time to combine all the ingredients.
  16. Put the cold pasta into a bowl, add the basil, olive oil and tomatoes and if you are like us, you will want to add a grind of black pepper and some coarse sea salt.
  17. Do not use normal table salt as it is too fine and too salty. Using table salt just makes the dish taste of salt.
  18. Course sea salt gives a reward of a fabulous tang of salty taste here and there rather than a general taste of salt. 
  19. Use two large spoons or forks and mix the ingredients around a bit so the olive oil coats the pasta and the tomatoes and basil are evenly distributed.
  20. Now it is ready to be served.

Tips:

This dish can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge but do not add the sea salt until you are ready to serve. The salt makes the pasta go mushy if left for too long.

As an alternative to normal basil, try Greek basil. This is the kind with the tiny leaves and is slightly sweeter than the large leaf basil. Obviously use more than 5 leaves though!

A blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife!

A strange fact but you have to press harder on a blunt knife which means more chance of slips and cuts when cutting delicate items like tomatoes.

This is a really simple and refreshing pasta dish and if you are a sports person or lead an active lifestyle and you are looking for food to keep your energy levels up, this dish is perfect.

Eat it an hour before your activity and feel the benefits of all that slow release carbs taking effect.