Summer Solstice is June 21st. Pasta salad defines summer as much as homemade ice cream, toes in the sand, and trying to fall asleep to the sound of fireworks. My pasta salads are always busy with countless, colorful ingredients, and are never the same way twice. I set myself a challenge for this month’s recipe: keep it simple, sunny, fresh, leave the spice rack out of the equation, and for my son Vincent’s sake- just this once- omit garlic and onion! It’s also challenging to monitor my process by recording each measurement of teaspoons and timing. This particular ‘piece’ is none too similar to my signature results. The first taste test was the only taste test. Normally I would add a little of this and that but found it wasn’t necessary. Vincent and I were pleasantly surprised that I hit the mark without further fussing and perfecting. His approval meant the recipe was right and ready for sharing. Happy Summer!
Prep time: 10 minutes * Cook time: 30 minutes
- 3 yellow squash
- 5 tablespoon olive oil – divided
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt - divided
- 1-pound dry strozzapreti pasta
- 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup sliced green olives (I used jalapeno stuffed olives)
- 4 tablespoon thousand island dressing (My thousand island dressing was homemade: equal parts Vegenaise, ketchup, and Dijon mustard)
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Fill a 5-quart pot with 4 quarts water, heat on high. This will have reached a boiling point once the oven preheated and step 3 was completed.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the squash. Slice in halves lengthwise, then cut 1/4-inch half-moon pieces. In a medium mixing bowl, toss squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Set baking sheet on center rack in oven, set timer for 30 minutes. My squash achieved a perfect light browning in 30 minutes. Adjust your timer depending on how light or dark you prefer your roasted squash.
- When the water has reached a rolling boil, cook the pasta according to the package directions, stirring occasionally. Steps 5., 6., and 7. can be completed while the squash bakes and the pasta boils. I have used a salad pasta cooling trick for many years that I improvised. After draining, keeping the pasta in the strainer, I place the strainer over the pot and put about a cup of ice over the top. Allow this to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then drain any excess water. This cools the pasta faster than the refrigerator will, which I think is important when you want a salad to *taste* cool and may be served immediately.
- Gently rinse basil leaves, then pluck them off their stems. Cut long strips, using the chiffonade technique: this is done by stacking several leaves at once, rolling them snug, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll.
- Green olives are usually bought whole, in which case you will need to slice your 3/4 cup of olives. (A stuffed olive may lose its stuffing once sliced, but it’s worth a try.)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine, 4 tablespoons thousand island dressing, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and cooled pasta. Toss gently. Add all remaining ingredients and gently toss until well mixed.