A pasta salad popped out of a friend’s picnic bag at a wine tasting picnic I was at last weekend and it was delicious – just the right combo of saltiness (feta), crunchiness (cucumber) and soft creaminess (av0). Since then I’ve been so into pasta salads – they’re perfect for an easy dinner, cold lunch and of course, picnics. This is my ultimate pasta salad, but you can always add all manner of other goodies to this basic recipe.
Serves 6 generously
500 g small pasta shells
1 cucumber, chopped into smallish pieces
500 g rosa or cherry tomatoes, halves
2 mielies, cooked (I do this in the microwave) and kernels removed
Half a packed of black olives, pitted and chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped into small pieces
1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
120 g feta, chopped into small squares
Canola or olive oil
Pinch of sugar
Cook the pasta and let it cool in a colander. Once it’s cooled down, pour into a large bowl and mix in all the ingredients. To make the dressing, combine about three tablespoons of oil with one or two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of mustard, a pinch of sugar and lots of black pepper and shake up in a jam jar. These are not exact measurements though – add more oil, vinegar or mustard to your taste. To transport the salad for a picnic, I keep the dressing in the jar and pour it on only when we get there.
I’ve been going to about three picnics a week lately, so I’ve been cooking an enormous amount of picnic goodies. Picnic food is the best – I love the mini-ness of everything. These miniature frittatas with sundried tomato, feta, courgettes and olives sum up what picnic food is all about – bite-sized, packed with summer flavours and infinitely more-ish. They couldn’t be easier to make, and you can pretty much put anything you like in them, from different kinds of cheese, mushrooms, peppers, spinach…
Makes 12 mini frittatas
6 free-range eggs
250 courgettes, grated
Handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped finely
Handful of olives, pitted and chopped
8 peppadews, chopped finely
1 T wholegrain mustard
5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
1 T fresh chives, chopped finely
After grating the courgettes, place them in a colander over the sink and spinkle them with salt. Leave them to drain. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Crumble in the feta and add all the other ingredients. Season well with black pepper. I like to add a dash of Tabasco and a generous sprinkling of cayenne pepper, but that’s up to you. Pour the mixture into a greased muffin pan (filling up each pan almost to the top) and bake in a 150 C oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the frittatas have started to turn golden.
This is one of the easiest pasta dishes I make. There’s hardly any chopping, and no stirring involved. It just needs a slow bake in the oven. I made this pasta for dinner for my cousin and boyfriend the night before we ran the Two Oceans half marathon – it was great for carbo loading!
- 1.2 kg of rosa or cherry tomatoes
- 200 g feta
- A handful of pitted black olives
- A head of garlic
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
- 750 g farfalle pasta, cooked according to packet instructions
Heat the oven to 180 C.
Put the tomatoes and olives in a big ceramic dish with a good slug each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Break up the garlic head and tuck the individual cloves in between the tomatoes (there’s no need to peel them). Season with black pepper. Place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are just starting to burst. Crumble in the feta and bake for a further 10 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven, pop the garlic cloves out of their skins, add roughly chopped basil leaves and mix well. Add to the cooked pasta and serve with a few basil leaves on top. It goes well with a watercress, rocket and avo salad dressed in lemon juice.