July is National Picnic Month and thanks to our friend and food historian, Francine Segan, we are celebrating with pasta! Great hot, pasta is also superb cold and can be used to make hundreds of different pasta salads.
Picnic pasta ©Pasta Modern by Francine Segan
My favorite pasta for salads is organic Monograno Felicetti pasta, which is made from single-origin heirloom grain and has a rich naturally nutty flavor. It is of such high quality that it stays firm and tastes great at room temperature.
One of my favorite shapes for salads is Fusilloni—wonderfully chunky, it’s an easy and fun to eat. Here are some ideas for summer picnics so simple you don’t even need a recipe:
- Add to raw spinach or other greens and season with your favorite dressing.
- Mix in tuna or shrimp salad.
- Combine pasta with mashed avocado, lemon juice, and minced herbs.
- Stir into diced cheddar, minced celery, peppers, and carrots.
- For a Greek flare, toss pasta with cucumbers, olives, artichokes, and feta.
I love this next recipe because it’s exceptionally flavorful, yet totally vegan and simple to make. For a feast in five minutes, add a handful of nuts, a few raisins for sweetness, capers, black olives for tang, garlic, and tomatoes.
What You’ll Need:
1 pound Monograno Felicetti fussilloni pasta
1 pound diced fresh tomatoes or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 cup chopped toasted assorted nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds
2 heaping tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed
10 to 12 pitted oil-cured black olives, cut in half
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
What to Do:
Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente.
Drain the pasta and toss with the tomatoes, olive oil and garlic until well combined. Then stir in the other ingredients. Serve at room temperature.
Felicetti in a Jar ©Pasta Modern by Francine Segan
Another picnic-perfect pasta are adorable snail-shaped Chiocciole. An ideal way to enjoy summer sweet ripe tomatoes is to serve them tossed with pasta, drizzled with oil, shredded basil and minced garlic. If you like put them in small glass containers to pack on your picnic.
What You’ll Need:
1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound Monograno Felicetti Chiocciole pasta
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
What to Do:
Toss the tomatoes, oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and garlic in a large bowl. Let marinate at room temperature.
While the tomatoes are marinating, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Stir the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl of tomatoes, and toss well to mix. Check the seasoning, adding salt and more red pepper if you like. Gently stir in the basil and serve at room temperature.