La Pasta Fredda is a dish that calls to us over and over again in the summer months. We’ve made this pasta salad hundreds of times, and each time we make it exactly the same way. The only things that ever varies is the type of pasta we use in it. The flavors, though, remain the same. It is a dish that has become part of our identity. We’ve served it at countless gatherings and events, and it is possibly the most requested and replicated recipe of all. Friends and family ask us when we will make it again.
There are many variations of this pasta. Some like to add olives or tuna. We keep it simple: mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Find good mozzarella and use good olive oil. Salt the water the pasta boils in well. Be generous with the olive oil.
1 bag or box of short pasta. Farfalle, Rigatoni, Penne, or Rotini work well.
4 ovoline di mozzarella. (In many cases, two tubs)
4 tomatoes. Roma or Beefsteak work well.
1 bunch of fresh basil
Salt, coarse and fine
Extra virgin olive oil
Place a large pot of water on the stove and wait for it to come to a rolling boil. In the meanwhile, cut your tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/2 – 1 in. cubes and place them in a large serving bowl.
Chop your basil into small pieces and add it to the tomatoes and mozzarella. A tip – we grab a bunch of washed basil in our fist, and use a kitchen scissors to snip the basil into the serving bowl.
Add salt, black pepper and olive oil liberally, and stir. Look to see that your ingredients are coated in oil, and taste for the right degree of saltiness.
When the water boils, add the pasta and let cook according to the time specified. Taste on occasion, and once the pasta reaches al dente, cook another 1-2 minutes. Drain the pasta into a colander and rinse under cold water for a minute or two. Use your hands to mix the pasta, ensuring that it all cools to room temperature. Strain the pasta well, and add it to the serving bowl with the tomato and mozzarella mixture. Stir carefully, and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Hint: the best pasta is found at the bottom of the serving bowl, because that is where the olive oil and tomato-mozzarella juices settle.