Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olivada

I love the versatility of pasta salads made with olive oil instead of mayonnaise.

They:

  • are delicious both at room temperature or cold
  • are great sides for BBQ fare
  • can be eaten as a main dish
  • make for excellent leftovers

While I was on the prowl for a new olive oil-based pasta salad, I came across this recipe in July’s issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It spoke to me for two reasons:

  • I was intrigued by the Olivada. (I had never heard of that before.) 
  • I love Gemelli

It turns out olivada is a Mediterranean version of tapenade–minced olives blended with oil and spices.  (Think olive pesto.) 

Gemelli are chewy little braid-shaped macaroni. They are easily found in most grocery stores.  That said, however, I don’t find them to be commonly used.  Using them adds some visual and textural interest to what might have been a typical pasta dish.

As I read down the ingredient list for this recipe, I noticed a component I don’t frequently use in my kitchen: Anchovy paste. Interesting. While it’s not often that I cook with anchovies, I did happen to have a tin of anchovies in my pantry. I decided I could benefit from the fatty acids and calcium that anchovies pack so I added them in place of the recipe’s anchovy paste. 

The outcome? Truthfully, it was basically like adding salt. They blended into the olivada so smoothly that I would never have known they were there if I hadn’t added them myself!  (In fact, I served this to my sister-in-law, who does not eat fish, and she loved it! That is, until I let out my little secret! 🙂 )

If you are wary of small salty fish but interested in the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, I definitely recommend this dish as a way to ease in. 

It is a delicious and versatile salad for summer and yet I can see bringing it to an apple picking picnic this fall.       

Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olivada:

  • 3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 jar pitted green olives
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 small tin of anchovies
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound of gemelli macaroni
  • 2 pints of fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives. roughly chopped

Add garlic to food processor and process until finely chopped. Add 1 cup of the chopped olives, capers, red wine vinegar, anchovies, mustard, and crushed red pepper. Turn processor on and off six times or until mixture is coarsely chopped. With machine running, gently and gradually add 1/2 cup of olive oil. Use a rubber spatula to transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in remaining chopped olives. Season to taste using salt and pepper. This is your olivada. Cover and refrigerate.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Transfer pasta to a bowl and drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add olivada and halved tomatoes. Toss well to coat. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Adapted from recipe found in July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

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7 Responses

  1. This sounds so lovely! I love making non-mayo based pasta salads during the summer too and the cherry tomatoes look fantastic!

  2. I will admit I am so a mayo-based pasta salad girl. This sounds fantastic though. I am not usually a cherry tomato girl (more love the big, beefy heirlooms) but now that I have a cherry tomato plant on the porch I’m looking for ways to cook with them.

  3. I’ll never forget the moment I discovered caesar salads were made with anchovies (even if you order then sans anchovies on top). At age 12, I freaked out. And then I promptly got over it and discovered I must, in fact, like anchovies.

    This pasta looks beautiful and I love the fact it’s made with olive oil… Olive pesto sounds like a heaven to me!

  4. i love gemelli, too 🙂 and am not a fan of mayo-based salads, so this definitely looks delicious to me!

  5. Fresh Homemade Guacamole…

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  6. What a perfect pasta salad! I’m not a mayo fan so this is right up my alley!

  7. […] is an easy way to spice up an old favorite. Check out these recipes: Papparadelle, Orecchiette, Gemelli, Orzo, Buccatini–they are all fun shapes to try! If the selection at your local grocer is […]

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