My pesto penne pasta salad~Gordon Ramsay's chopped salad & green bean salad~Sip and Feast’s fusilli & bowtie pasta salads~homemade salad dressing~wine trips on YouTube~secret tip for BLT's and burgers
I have favorite dishes in every season of the year. Come summer, there’s an ramped-up exuberance in the air when thinking about cooking with fresh herbs and vegetables straight from the garden. If I’ve planned ahead, incomparable delights such as Chinese pea pods and haricotes verts are eaten right off the vine. What’s got me hopped up this season are pesto pasta, turbo BLT’s, and turbo burgers. Close behind are dinner salads night after night. When I dove into the Internet to come up with additional ideas I was met with a tsunami of ideas, 10 recipes here, 50 there, and 100 more at site after site, some 15 pages into a search for “cold pasta salads,” I must say. None inspired me, so, I continued to scratch and sniff further like an Italian pig hunting truffles so you wouldn’t have to. The effort was well worth my—and I surely hope yours—time! Here they all are.
My Pesto Pasta Salad
Must haves: Fresh basil; your best olive oil (I like O); just the right type of pine nuts; just the right cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano aged two to four years or Grana Padano; just the right pasta, De Cecco spinach penne, or another brand if you can locate one. I haven’t been able to.
As for how to make it, I’ve never used a recipe. I’ve always just eyeballed it. And as for the perfect pasta, pine nut, oil, and cheese . . . just forget it, if you must, and use what you’ve got. The proportions are roughly a food processor bowl of basil—fresh from your garden, of course—plus a generous pour or two of olive oil, a handful or two of pine nuts, a handful or two of cheese, and 1/4 to 1/2 box of spinach penne rigate. I make the pesto, cook the pasta, and combine in amounts that taste right on the spot. So sorry! I know that’s all over the place but I’ve probably made it dozens of times and most likely never the same way twice. And I can’t remember a time when I didn’t just luv it! Now it’s your turn.
Gordon Ramsay Salads
Chef Gordon Ramsay offers these three in this YouTube video: Green papaya salad (to my mind, not so great so you can just pass on this one); then a very nice chopped salad; and a creative green bean salad.
Sip and Feast’s Fusilli & Bowtie Pasta Salads
Sip and Feast online site is definitely worth checking out. I’d never heard of this home cook before but Chef James’ YouTube video is about two lovely pasta salads. But I haven’t tried them yet. The first one includes cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella balls, salami (I might substitute soppressata or cooked pancetta), and corkscrew-shaped fusilli (or rotini) pasta. I’m particularly anxious to try the second one because of its charming combination of large bowtie pasta with barely cooked fresh baby spinach and gorgonzola. Another dish is fettuccini with butter and cherry tomato sauce.
Susanality is an exceptional Substack newsletter. Its bucatini with pea pesto and shaved asparagus is but one of numerous creative recipes in its culinary cosmos. Susan Spungen, a New York cookbook author—“Open Kitchen,” her most recent—food stylist, and recipe developer, is the force behind this project.
Sarah Copeland is an award-winning cookbook author, holistic health coach, writer, mother, gardener, and curator of good living. She creates delightful pastas for spring and summer: Orecchiette (or any short pasta) with ricotta and Swiss chard; summer seafood pasta; and grilled corn, tomato, and avocado pasta salad. All sound delicious.
"Every Day is Saturday" is her latest cookbook.
Minimalist Baker offers a tasty looking option: Pea pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula with fusilli.
The Spruce Eats has a cold, herbed fusilli salad with garlic and lemon and basil.
Jamie Oliver’s linguini and asparagus salad is one I’ll try.
The Bittman Project offers 5 summer salad recipes, plus starters and snacks, main courses, and desserts of summertime cooking.
Lacucina Italiana, a genuine Italian website, offers 30 different ideas.
Emily Nunn Salad Dressings
Emily Nunn’s newsletter, Department of Salads, brims with tempting recipes for homemade dressings to avoid “eating the same old shabby dressings.” Among them: Creamy lemon with chives; Russian dressing; vinaigrette; and anchovy for a lovely white bean salad with tuna, artichokes, and olives.
And the David Lebovitz Newsletter on Substack has a nifty tarragon vinaigrette of his own.
What I'm Watching . . .
V Is For Vino is a wine education series on YouTube that began in 2017. Here is its take on Paso Robles, one of my all-time favorite wine areas in the U.S. that’s known for Rhone varietals, both white and red.
Vince Anter, host and producer and a certified sommelier, explains wine in a way created for the common Gen-Xer (born from 1965 to 1980, between 41-56 years old, if you don’t remember) and millennial (between 22 and 40). He tries to make wine education both fun and accessible by finding the best food to pair with it, and gives simplistic, yet detailed wine knowledge that you can easily apply in daily life. To him, wine should be very approachable and a lot less intimidating. He takes viewers to different wine regions to explore their culture and history, to taste the wine, to meet the winemakers, and to cook food pairings in a local restaurant. The show really is for anyone who just wants to learn a lot.
Season 4 was released June 24. Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France are all included, plus Chicago, where he checks out deep-dish pizza, Chicago hot dogs, Chicago architecture, Chicago history, Chicago wine shops, how to taste wine, and Aba, a snappy restaurant serving Mediterranean food, a clear departure from wildly popular steakhouses and comfort food joints there.
A Tomato Tip
When I began thinking about his issue, I originally included summer sandwiches: turbo BLT’s and turbo burgers, two that I look forward to each and every summer season. What I meant by “turbo” is the very best version of each that I could possibly create. But after thinking about my approach vs. what I found all over the internet, I realized I have very little to offer besides a couple tips. You know, if you’re into these summer favorites, what brand of bacon or blend of meat, plus your fave lettuce and bread or bun, you want to use, and all the condiments you prefer. My solitary tip—and not to diminish it— for BLT & burgers is the very same: Use a very thick slice of tomato you love in peak season. Well, maybe one other tiny tip for burgers: Pinch out much of the top part of the bun before you butter and grill.
Those are my tips for y’all, but check out the Food & Wine website for scads more.
Want to make someone’s day? Share this post! Or give someone a free gift subscription!