Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

The day after a half-marathon (for me, anyway) usually spells relief and also some pain or at least exhaustion. I was lucky this time, however, that my overriding feelings were relief, a little pride that we actually didn't totally embarrass ourselves and just a bit of fatigue--but nothing requiring even a little cat nap in the aft. I guess this means Carole and I were slightly better prepared than we had expected and perhaps our (very) long-term muscle memory managed to kick in after all.

Since I wasn't feeling the need to stay horizontal on the couch for the afternoon, I figured I'd grill some meat and throw together a salad for dinner. This pasta salad is one of my family's favourite summer dishes and probably the first recipe I ever made from any of Ina Garten's cookbooks. It's a good example of how she takes simple ingredients and assembles them in a no-nonsense, foolproof way. While the pasta is rolling around in the boiling water, you pull out the handy-dandy food processor and quickly whip up a slightly tangy dressing, chop up some tomatoes, cheese and basil (I omitted the olives because I didn't feel like watching all three kiddies, with curled lips and looks of disgust, fastidiously pick out all things black off their plates during dinner... usually entertaining but maybe not that night), and that's basically it. This has been a popular dish at barbecue dinners, picnics and as leftovers.

serves 4 to 6

1/2 pound fusilli pasta
olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Rest of the week

May 15 Recovery dinner out at the golf course following our half-marathons

May 16 Pork chops with pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and tossed salad