Pasta fredda al salmone e sedano (Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad)

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted a new recipe on Due Spaghetti.  The pace of summer is supposed to be slower and more relaxed, but June has been a whirlwind so far.  On a positive note, we are getting closer and closer to moving back into our house.  Our friend Tiet, a true artisan cabinetmaker, is almost done making our walnut kitchen cabinets, and they are beautiful.  The hardwood floors are in, and we’re picking out paint colors.  If all goes well, we will return from our July trip to Italy and move back in.

We are looking forward to that trip, to spending time with family and friends and to finally slowing down.  We’ll spend a week in Rome with Stefano’s family, celebrating the 3rd birthdays of our nephews Davide and Flavio, and catching up with our 8-year-old nephew Damiano.  Nonna Maria will have all 5 grandsons home at once, and the cousins will be happy to be together again.

We’ll spend the second week touring Northern Italy.  Our first stop will be Trentino, in South Tyrol along a road called the Strada del Vino  in the midst of vineyards and wineries.  The kids will stay with Nonna Maria and enjoy the pool at Schwarz Adler Turm Hotel, while we will tour the Alois Lageder winery.  The next day, we will travel down to Veneto and have lunch with Lucia from Villa Monteleone winery.

Next, we’ll head east towards Piemonte, and Barolo country.  We will stay at Albergo Castiglione, with its pool overlooking the vineyards of the Langhe countryside, and visit the winery of Paolo Saracco, producer of fine Moscato and Pinot Nero.  Finally, we’ll end our trip in the Cinque Terre, where we’ve rented a small apartment in Riomaggiore right near the sea, from Signora Edi Vesigna.

This weekend we made a summer pasta salad that reflects the the simplicity and the slow pace of the warm months.  Smoked salmon is the primary focus of this pasta salad. Chopped celery gives it a mild, cool flavor and lemon zest and juice provides a hint of summertime freshness.

1 box of Farfalle or any other short pasta
200 grams (7 ounces) smoked salmon
1 stalk of celery
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 handful of coarse salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil.  In a large bowl, break the smoked salmon into small pieces.  Chop the celery finely, and add it to the bowl with the salmon.  Add the zest and juice of one lemon, and set aside.

When the water boils, add a heaping handful of coarse salt to the water, and then the pasta.  Cook al dente according to the time on the package.  Drain the pasta and rinse it well under cold running water, mixing it with your hands until it is evenly cool.  Drain well.

Transfer the pasta into the bowl with the salmon mixture.  Stir in the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. The pasta salad is best when eaten right away.

Pasta fredda is the perfect summer time lunch or dinner.  Here is another Due Spaghetti pasta fredda recipe you might like.


La Pasta Fredda

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
Black Pepper
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.

Let the mixture sit.  The juices of the tomatoes and mozzarella will combine with the olive oil to make a delicious sauce for the pasta.

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.