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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 65

I haven’t had much luck with making pasta salad in the past. It always seemed to be lacking in flavor and pretty mediocre. We decided to grill kebabs last week and enjoy our first dinner out on our patio. I thought pasta salad sounded like the perfect side item.

I read through several recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this recipe for Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives sounded like a winner. We love Mediterranean flavors and I didn’t see how this could be boring with zucchini, olives, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and feta.

I made a few modifications to the recipe. First, I made the pasta salad ahead of time (wanted to go to a late yoga class!) so I skipped grilling the zucchini in favor of a quick saute. Second, I just do not love the flavor of raw onions and garlic so I gave those a quick saute too (and subbed Vidalia’s for red onions because they were on hand).

The verdict? Awesome! The only complaint Brandon had was with the whole wheat pasta but that’s typical. He’s not a lover of the added chewiness. If you struggle with that too you may want to substitute white pasta for the wheat but keep in mind the added health benefits of using whole wheat pasta :)

I loved the flavors of this pasta salad and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next couple days. I cut the recipe in half and it still made a ton. This would be great for entertaining or to make for lunches for the week. I will most definitely be making this recipe again soon.

One Year Ago: Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil

Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 1994)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing  zucchini
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 pound whole-wheat penne or other tubular pasta
2/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
6 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole small or torn large fresh basil leaves

In a large bowl gently stir together tomatoes, onion, garlic paste, vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.

Brush one side of zucchini slices lightly with additional oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat until hot and grill zucchini, oiled sides down, in batches, brushing tops with more oil before turning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until just tender but not soft. Transfer to a small bowl.

In a pot of salted boiling water cook pasta until just tender (following package directions) and drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture and toss to combine. Cool pasta slightly and stir in zucchini, olives, cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 servings

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