Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes--Barefoot Bloggers

Our first July recipe, Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes was selected by the wonderful Cat at Delta Whiskey. It's a pretty healthy dish and perfect for summer. A dressing of sun-dried tomato, capers oil and vinegar is tossed into fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fresh mozzarella and of course, fusilli pasta. 

I am a fusilli fan, not just for the way sauces cling to its corkscrew spirals but because it reminds me of a favorite episode, ("The Fusilli Jerry") of a favorite sitcom, Seinfeld. In "The Fusilli Jerry", Kramer brings Jerry  a small statue of him that Kramer made with fusilli pasta, announcing that it is "Fusilli Jerry". When Jerry questions Kramer as to why he chose Fusilli to make it, Kramer replies, "Because you're silly!" Kramer says he is also working on a "Ravioli George" and the hard part is to find a pasta that captures the individual. (In a later episode he makes a "Macaroni Midler" for Bette Midler but that's another story!

The Fusilli Jerry ultimately ends up in a very uncomfortable place for George's father when he falls on it, "It was a million-to-one shot, Doc!" A great episode full of many "Seinfeldisms" and the first thing I think of when anyone mentions fusilli, because it is just "silly!"

But I digress when I really should be talking about our pasta dish from Ina. This one didn't require me to make a lot of healthy-it-up changes, just lessening the oil a bit and the salt too, since so many of the ingredients are already salty. I made a half-batch--more than plenty, and for personal taste I cut down on the amount of olives and added in some whole capers to the salad (I loves me some capers). On it's own or served with some sliced chicken, roasted Ina style with a little olive oil and spices and green salad, it makes a great warm weather meal.

This recipe can also be found in The Barefoot Contessa Family Style (Page 58) or at the Food Network site here

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Barefoot Contessa Family Style
(Makes 6-8 Servings)

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
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 red 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.

Notes/Results: Good! A nice combination of flavors and textures. I used a whole wheat pasta, which I think adds nicely to the texture in a pasta salad and gets a bit more fiber in the mix. I used some local fresh, sweet baby Roma tomatoes that I just cut in half and the sweetness really added a lot to the dish. The sun-dried tomatoes I had on hand are dried without oil but they are nice and soft and I like them better that way. In fact, I cut the oil in the dressing down a bit too, added a little water to thin it out and it was still very flavorful. I really recommend you taste the salad with a bit of the dressing before you add any salt because of the salty profile of the olives, caper and sun-dried tomatoes. I ended up using just the tiniest pinch and it was plenty, (Ina salts a bit too much for me sometimes). This pasta would be a great party, BBQ or potluck dish--it's perfect cold or at room temperature and full of flavor.

Thanks to Cat for a great choice to kick July off with! You can see what the rest of the Barefoot Bloggers thought of this pasta dish by heading to the BB site here.


  1. This is my favourite way to eat in the summer. A great, light pasta.. a little something on the grill..
    Looks wonderful!

  2. I agree. perfect for the summer. Truly wonderful choice and it presents beautifully.

  3. We are totally on the same page...I too added whole capers, and served with grilled chicken! Your dish looks wonderful!! YUM!

  4. This is such a lovely summer meal. You've made me hungry.

  5. I'd forgotten about Fusilli Jerry!

    We added grilled chicken and a little pepperoni. Such an easy meal!

  6. This is a pefect summer dish and yours looks great. Thanks for the Seinfield throw back.

  7. Fusilli Jerry...ha ha ha, I had forgotten about that! Yummy, looks great on the plate w/ chicken & cukes! It was a perfect summer pasta dish :)

  8. Pasta salads like this are my favorite. It sounds like one that the local Italian deli makes that I would love if it had less oil. Now I can make it myself!

  9. Great pictures, and extra kudos for the Seinfeld references! (I was totally thinking the same thing as I was looking for fusilli in the grocery store!)

  10. I love Ina's recipes, haven't tried this one yet. But I definitely want to!

  11. Ha ha ha, my roomate and I just sat around for the past 10 minutes quoting that episode because of you! Thanks for the rundown, it has been a while since I have seen it!

  12. Oh, I LOVE sun-dried tomatoes in pasta! I made a dish something like that, too, and it was SO delish...this dish is another must-try!

  13. Ha! I loved the Seinfeld reference, what a great episode:)

  14. Looks great. I loved how you served it, what a healthy meal.


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