Bruschetta Pasta, a fresh tomato orecchiette pasta salad with sweet cherry tomatoes, basil, lemon and garlic. The quintessential meatless summer meal to make use of all those colorful homegrown or farmers market tomatoes and basil bounty. Satisfying, filling and refreshing!
Bruschetta Pasta Salad
A fresh riff on the classic capellini pomodoro dish featuring all the flavors of an authentic Italian bruschetta bread. The chewy orecchiette pasta here takes the place of the garlic rubbed bread tossed with the zesty and juicy cherry tomato basil mixture.
Choose a mixture of sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, each color tastes a little bit different and brings its own magic to the dish. Any heirloom tomatoes diced up into similar size as the pasta you are using will work great here. It’s important to allow them to sit and macerate in the lemon, garlic and olive oil dressing while the pasta is boiling. This will result in the most delicious fresh sauce while the acid will also tame the pungency of the fresh garlic.
Southern Italian orecchiette (or little ears) are really lovely here, however you can use little shells or conchigliette instead, shellbows, cavatelli, fusilli or penne, even gnocchi if your heart so desires. They all come in whole grain options and many of them are also gluten-free.
- Garlic – this is your moment, go crazy here with as much as you can handle but make sure to use a microplane zester to grate it into a paste. Toss it with the tomatoes, lemon, salt + olive oil and allow them to sit together while the pasta is cooking. This will tame the garlic and take the sting off while infusing everything else with its divine flavor.
- Pasta – boil your pasta in well salted water until al dente (to the tooth), still a little firm when bitten and not mushy. Since we are technically making a pasta salad make sure to drain and rinse it well with cold water to stop the cooking process and prevent sticking. Immediately toss with the tomato mixture to coat in all those divine juices. Serve promptly or refrigerate up to 5 days. Do not freeze!
- Add ins ideas – I absolutely love the perfection and simplicity of a summery dish such as this one that you can throw together in no time. All you have to do is boil the pasta, slice the tomatoes and toss together. It needs nothing more but you can certainly add a few homemade mini mozzarella balls (dairy-free bocconcini of course) for a Caprese twist, maybe some marinated artichoke hearts, black olives or roasted peppers. If you want to expand on the basic recipe then broccoli rabe is a classic pairing with orecchiette pasta, it would definitely make a nice addition here alongside some grilled beyond Italian sausages chopped up into bite size pieces.
Bruschetta Pasta Salad
- 1 lb orecchiette pasta
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil (thinly sliced or torn)
- 4-6 cloves garlic grated into a paste
- 2 lemons (zested + juiced)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more as needed
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and add them too a bowl with the grated garlic, olive oil and the juice from 2 lemons. (Optional: add the zest from 1 lemon for extra zing if desired). Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and mix well. Allow to sit and macerate at room temperature while you cook the pasta.4 cups cherry tomatoes, 4-6 cloves garlic, 2 lemons, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more as needed
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and generously season with a heavy pinch of coarse salt. Add the orecchiette pasta and cook until al dente following the directions on the package. Drain in a colander and immediately rinse well under cold water.1 lb orecchiette pasta
- Add the orecchiette to a large mixing bowl together with the marinated cherry tomatoes and all their juices / marinade. Toss to combine and stir in the basil.1 lb orecchiette pasta, 1/2 cup fresh basil, 2 lemons, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more as needed, 4-6 cloves garlic
- Taste the pasta salad and adjust seasonings to taste with more lemon, olive oil and sea salt. Add a pinch of red chili flakes for heat and enjoy.
- Pasta Shapes - Southern Italian orecchiette or "little ears" are really lovely here, however you can use little shells or conchigliette instead, shellbows, cavatelli, fusilli or penne, even gnocchi if your heart so desires. Boil in plenty of salted water just until al dente, drain and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Garlic - this is your moment, go crazy here with as much as you can handle but make sure to use a microplane zester and grate the garlic into a paste. Toss it with the tomatoes, lemon, salt and olive oil and allow them to sit together while the pasta is cooking. This will tame the garlic and take the sting off while infusing everything else with its divine flavor.
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