The be-all, end-all pasta salad

My camera is currently missing, so in the meantime, please admire this completely unrelated photo of lovely turnips from Daily Harvest Farm.

Last week, I had some gorgeous skirt steaks from The Piggery to grill, and some gorgeous swiss chard from my CSA box, but I needed something else to round out the meal. Enter this pasta salad, which was dreamed up by my colleague from Gourmet, Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez, whose name, though a mouthful, should be a household word for her genius recipes.

I have made it a bunch of times, and it is always awesome, either warm, at room temperature, or cold, the leftovers eaten right from the container. Strangely, I remembered it with lemon and parsley, but now that I am re-reading the recipe, I can see that was my addition early on. On this particular day, I didn’t have acini di pepe or olives in the house, and though I did have parsley, I also had a nice bunch of chervil from the CSA box that I didn’t want to go to waste.

But that’s the great thing about this recipe! You can adapt and adapt and it’s always good, as long as you stick to the basic formula. So that said, here’s a formula to follow to always get it right:

  • 1/2 pound any kind of pastina, like acini di pepe, orzo, or stelline
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup something salty, like capers, crumbled cheese, or chopped olives
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, chervil, basil, mint, or tarragon
Cook the pastina until it’s al dente. Combine all the other stuff in a large bowl. Strain pasta and pour over the stuff in the bowl; toss and season as desired with additional salt, freshly-ground black pepper and lemon juice.
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