Italian pasta salad

This is not your traditional pasta salad. It’s way better.

I grew up with the classic Italian pasta salad being served at every party. You know the one…tri-color pasta tossed with cubes of salami, red & green peppers, black olives (the kind in the can), provolone and everything is covered in bottled Italian dressing. I have eaten this pasta salad enough in my day that I am more than happy to never eat it again, and haven’t considered making it in years, but I recently came across a recipe that made me fall back in love with Italian pasta salad and it’s SO much better!

Italian pasta salad

I came across this recipe while watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they discussed the common problems with traditional pasta salad such as soggy vegetables, tasteless dressings, texture inconsistency, lack of creativity, and uneven distribution of ingredients. The ingredients, while similar to the more common Italian pasta salad described above, are much more robust and elevated. They referred to the ingredients in this salad as “antipasti inspired” and I love that!

The dressing is made from garlic and anchovy infused extra virgin olive oil that is then blended with spicy pepperoncini peppers & salty capers. It’s delicious! It is all then tossed with antipasti inspired ingredients like olives, sundered tomatoes, mozzarella and salami.

A note on anchovies. I know I probably just turned a lot of people off from this recipe with that scary word “anchovy,” but you have no idea how often anchovies are used in restaurant cooking, dressings and condiments and you don’t even know it. In the case of this pasta salad, they melt into the oil and you won’t even know they are there but you will notice the depth of umami that the anchovy brings to the party. I don’t understand these people who hate on anchovies, but if you are one of them, I think you just need to get over it. You’re missing a world of flavor.

Feaster’s Tip:

I agree with America’s Test kitchen’s recommendation on selecting salami. We both prefer a small, individually packaged, dry Italian-style salami. However if it is unavailable, you can ask the deli counter for thick cuts of Genoa salami and then cube it. But the quality is of cold cut style salami is not as good as individual packaged sausage style salamis.

Italian Pasta Salad
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 people (side dish)
Author: Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fusilli
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 garlic cloves minced (depends on your tolerance for garlic.)
  • 5-6 anchovy fillets rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pepperoncini stemmed, plus 2 tablespoons brine
  • 3 tablespoons capers rinsed
  • 2 ounces 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes sliced thin
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives quartered
  • 8 ounces salami cut into ⅜-inch dice
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese cut into ⅜-inch dice and patted dry
Instructions
  1. Slice half of pepperoncini into thin rings and set aside.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water until chilled. Drain well and transfer to large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, combine oil, garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes in a small sauce pan over a gentle heat just until bubbling. Remove from heat. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Set aside. (The purpose of this is just to infuse the oil with flavor and melt the anchovies.)
  4. Transfer the whole pepperoncini to food processor. Add capers and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add pepperoncini brine and warm oil mixture and process until combined, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add dressing to pasta and toss to combine. Add tomatoes, olives, salami, mozzarella, and pepperoncini rings and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, toss with arugula & basil.
Recipe Notes

Make ahead – Salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days but do not add the basil or arugula. Let the salad come to room temperature and then toss the arugula and basil right before serving.

corn & basil salad

Featured in Greenwich Lifestyle magazine – July 2020

Everyone loves corn in the summer- it’s sweet, savory, and genuinely makes people happy!

We are all familiar with the preparation of the summer classic “corn on the cob” but an even better way to highlight this popular summer vegetable is is to make a beautiful, bright corn salad.

Corn & Basil Salad
Few things represent summer more than fresh corn and basil

This simple, delicious recipe is sure to be the star side dish at your next bar-b-que. (Better still, it’s a great way to use up all that basil that is starting to peak!) Corn & basil salad is a fantastic way to highlight the best of our local summer produce and herbs. The perfect complement to any summer gathering.

Feaster’s Tip: You can make it ahead. Here is how.

  1. Cook, prep & refrigerate the corn.
  2. In a separate container, make the dressing, omitting the basil, and refrigerate.
  3. About an hour before serving the salad, dress the corn being careful not to overdress (you may have extra dressing).
  4. Right before serving add the basil so it stays crisp and retains its color.
Corn & Basil Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Corn and Basil salad is the perfect side dish for a your next barbecue

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 ears of corn shucked clean
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.
  2. Mix together in small bowl vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Gently combine kernels (and tomatoes, if using) with the vinaigrette.

  4. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

As featured in Greenwich Lifestyle magazine- June 2020

Few men (and women!) can resist a good all beef burger! However, there is a big difference between a good burger and great burger. A great burger is well seasoned, juicy, and oozing with flavors that elevate the beef rather than disguising it. There is no argument that beef pairs very well with onions and red wine, which is exactly what this recipe uses to take this burger to a whole new level!

greenwich lifestyle mag cover

The secret ingredient to this blissful burger is an onion jam that is caramelized with a hearty red wine, red pepper chili flakes, fresh thyme, salt & pepper. The onions are cooked on low and quite slow, which creates an almost jam like consistency, perfect for spreading on a burger. These onions are savory, sweet, salty & spicy which is a winning combination on beef.

To make this burger, there are three steps. First, you must make the onions, which can be made up to three days in advance. Next, once the onions are ready, it’s time to cook and assemble the burger. The final step to this burger is to pair with a good bottle of red wine, kick back and enjoy!

Step 1: make the onion jam

Ingredients

  • 2 large red onions, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup hearty red wine, such as cabernet.
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

*The onion jam can be made up to 3 days in advance, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

This recipe yields about 1 cup of onion jam.

Directions

Heat a heavy bottom dutch oven or a skillet pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the onions and stir to coat for about 3 minutes. Set the heat to low and stir occasionally for about 30-35 minutes. (Be sure to adjust the heat up or down as needed. The onions should not brown, they should slowly “melt.”)

Once the onions are soft and the white parts have become translucent, Add the red wine, salt, pepper, red chili flakes and sugar. Stir to combine. Raise heat to medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Gently boil for about 3-5 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated. Taste for seasoning. The onions should be tender, sweet & spicy.

Step 2: Make the burger

Ingredients

  • All beef burger patty(s)
  • Brioche buns
  • Aged cheddar cheese
  • Arugula
  • Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • Onion jam

Directions

Season fresh beef burgers with kosher salt & fresh ground pepper on both sides. Grill to a medium rare temperature (or desired doneness). Melt a generous amount of aged, sharp cheddar cheese on top. Remove burgers from the grill to a sheet pan and tent with foil. Let the burgers rest for 3-5 minutes. (Don’t skip this step!) Meanwhile, heat the onion mixture & lightly grill burger buns.

To assemble, coat the bottom of buns with a tablespoon of dijon mustard. Top with a handful of arugula, then the burger with the melted cheese, then a generous portion of the caramelized onions. Serve with your favorite bottle of red wine!

Ina Garten's French Potato Salad

Fresh herbs are one of my favorite things about summer cooking and this recipe is a great way to showcase my garden’s bounty.  The chopped herbs are tossed with warm potatoes, champagne vinegar and white wine to come together for a fabulous summer side dish.Ina Garten’s French style, no-mayo, potato salad is going to take your average summer barbecue to the next level. It’s a fantastic served as a side dish accompanying crab cakes, a grilled steak or even simple hamburgers.

The herbs can take some time to prep, but it’s worth it to serve up what everyone is sure to tell you, is the best potato salad they have ever had. After making this homemade potato salad, you never serve the stuff from the deli counter ever again! This recipe is best if served within a few hours of making, warm or at room temperature, however, this dish holds up pretty well for about 24 hours if you need to make it in advance.  After that, the herbs start to brown and breakdown. If refrigerated, take out about an hour before serving to take the chill off.

Potato Salad with Herbs & Vinaigrette
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Ina Garten's French Potato Salad is full of fresh herbs and vinagar and the perfect dish to elevate your next backyard barbecue!

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: potato, side dish, vegetarian
Author: Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 1 pound small white boiling potatoes
  • 1 pound small red boiling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons good dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions white and green parts
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
  2. Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

corn & basil salad salad

Ilove most vegetables…corn is not one of them! I think it’s over used, always over cooked (but that’s a subject for a whole other post!) and makes a mess! However, this corn salad is a staple when we bbq, attend a picnic or just want a break from the standard summer pasta salads – it’s my go-to summer salad recipe and I just love it! In recognition of this Labor Day weekend and all the Backyard BBQ’s and boating trips we will all be enjoying, I wanted to share this simple, delicious recipe with you! It’s sure to hit the spot!

Corn & Basil Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Corn and Basil salad is the perfect side dish for a your next barbecue

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 ears of corn shucked clean
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.
  2. Mix together in small bowl vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Gently combine kernels (and tomatoes, if using) with the vinaigrette.

  4. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.