Is pasta just for winter?
Do you eat much in the way of cold pasta dishes? I’m sure many of you think of pasta as a warming winter food for the chilly months. You may associate pasta with rich creamy sauces and comforting tomato mince recipes. These are perfect for warming you up and filling your belly – let’s face it, we care less about a bikini body when we’re covered up in our winter woollies!
However, pasta is extremely versatile and there are loads of yummy recipes out there that are perfect for the hot summer months.
Make it interesting!
Whilst green salads are great, you need to make them interesting and add variety to your meal times.
So, what is the best type of pasta for salads?
Firstly, look at the different types of pasta available – we covered this in our previous blog ‘how to cook perfect pasta every time’. Some lend themselves to the more filling meals such as lasagna and spaghetti bolognaise, however, some shapes are great for pasta salads.
Short pasta such as farfalle or fusilli is much easier to serve in a buffet-type situation as there will be less twirling needed if it’s not a seated meal. It works best if the pasta has lots of nooks and crannies for oily dressings to sit in. Also, pasta tubes such as penne or macaroni hold sauces very well.
- Cook the pasta in extra-salty water. Serving cold food means the flavours become subtler, so making sure its well-seasoned will add to the flavour.
- Cook the pasta a little beyond al dente. Don’t let it go mushy, however, pasta can go a bit hard and chewy once it’s cooled, so your usual al dente for hot pasta dishes doesn’t work quite so well once it’s cooled down.
- Dress the pasta while it’s still warm. This means the pasta will absorb the dressing better.
So what flavours work best with cold pasta?
Depending on your tastes, here are some flavour ideas for cold pasta dishes:
- Tomatoes, olives, feta
- Bacon, coleslaw
- Mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil
- Lots of good quality virgin olive oil
- Parmesan shavings
- Sausage & sun-dried tomato
- Lemon and rocket
- Spinach & pine kernels
There’s nothing better than al-fresco dining with a variety of dishes (including 1 or 2 pasta salads), a glass of chilled white wine and good company