Amalfi Coast Whole Grain Pasta Salad | The Daily Dish

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Amalfi Coast Whole Grain Pasta Salad

3 Comments | Written on June 21, 2012 at 5:00 am , by

One of my favorite places on earth is the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  Back in college I saved up every penny of my work-study jobs for a backpackers trip through this magical coastline along the Mediterranean Sea.  (It was a bit easier back then when the dollar was strong and Italy was still on the lire!)

When I remember Amalfi, two images come to mind – the sea and the lemons.  The turquoise blue waters were like nothing I had ever seen before.  And the lemons…oh, those lemons!  The air was filled with their aroma, and everywhere I looked a bright yellow color caught my eye.  Then, of course, how can I forget the limoncello!

Back here at home, as I recall this majestic place halfway across the world, I wanted to try and recreate the experience with what I could find at my local grocery store.  I may not have access to the open air markets of Sorrento, but maybe I could find a way to give these available ingredients a new and creative twist.

I started with shell pasta.  The shape alone reminds me of the sea!  I like to choose a whole wheat and whole grain variety (like this one from Hodgson Mill) because they are packed with heart-healthy fiber and the taste and texture work so well in pasta salads like this one.

Next I had to use one of my new obsessions:  fresh mozzarella balls.  They come in a variety of sizes and the “Pearline” size was exactly the same and the shell pasta.  A match made in food heaven!

Then I had to give this pasta salad color and texture.  Fresh green parsley and basil, red sun-dried tomatoes and white mozzarella balls are like the Italian flag waving on the plate.

Finally, that limoncello I remember so well.  Of course, I would serve it along side this summertime pasta salad, but I wondered if it could be incorporated into the dish?  That’s when I decided on a Basil-Limoncello Vinaigrette to tie this pasta salad together.  I love how the shell shaped pasta scooped up the bright and flavorful vinaigrette in every bite!

If you can’t swing a flight to Amalfi this summer, just take a short trip to your local grocery store instead.  Share this pasta salad (and a glass of limoncello!) with your friends and family and “mangia bene!”

 Amalfi Coast Whole Grain Pasta Salad  (click here to view and print recipe)

2 cups cooked Whole Wheat Medium Shells Pasta (such as Hodgson Mill Whole Grain)

1 cup fresh mozzarella balls (pearl size)

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup julienne cut moist-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

3/4 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

Basil-Limoncello Vinaigrette:

5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons limoncello

1 small clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Garnish: Sprigs of flat leaf parsley or fresh basil

1. Prepare pasta shells according to package directions.

2. While pasta is cooking, place all remaining salad ingredients except dressing in a medium serving bowl. After pasta is cooked, drain and rise with cool water.  Add pasta to serving bowl with other ingredients and stir to blend.

3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor.

4. Add dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 6.

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