My kids love pasta. According to C, he would eat noodles about 100 times a week if he could. (He just learned about 100.) I like pasta too, but sometimes it can get a little old. And then there is pasta salad. Granted, it’s a family friendly workhorse, but I get a little bored with it. It’s just….forgettable. I’ve been steering clear from it lately. But when I offered to help a neighbor out with a family dinner and she thought a pasta salad would be the easiest, I had to rethink my pasta salad strategy. I started googling. There were lots of recipes, but nothing that I thought was both kid friendly and inspiring. And anything with mayo or that couldn’t be prepared the day before were immediately out. Fortunately, there was a bright spot to help a girl out. Bon Appetit gave me a few ideas of what to avoid – and how to create – better pasta salads. This lit my inspirational fires and I trotted off to Target to grab a few things for our family road trip as well as the pasta for my salad. While I was there, I found myself looking at a cantaloupe and found my inspiration. A fun curly pasta, cantaloupe, salami, mozzarella cheese, basil. I think we’ll have a winner!
For the record – this is just a ball parking recipe. Adjust the flavors/amounts for your personal tastes. This passed the kid test (my kids devoured it) and Jeff told me twice that he liked it. That’s a good thing.
1 pound pasta. See the Bon Appetit for tips on types of pasta that are the best. No farfalle, please!
1/2 cantaloupe – cut into a bite sized dice. Save the rest for breakfast. Or a snack. Or immediately.
1 ball fresh mozzarella – cut into a smaller bite sized dice
1 package salami – I grabbed the precut version from the meat/cheese case. Prosciutto would also be brilliant here.
Basil – a big, big handful. Stack, roll, and thinly slice to chiffonade
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper
Kosher Salt – for salting pasta water
Optional – Maldon’s Salt for finishing
1. Boil the pasta in generously salted water. (See Bon Appetit suggestions)
2. Drain pasta, DO NOT RINSE, and dry on a cookie sheet. Toss with a bit of olive oil.
3. One the pasta is room temperature, dump into a large bowl with the cantaloupe, mozzarella, salami, basil, and a very healthy grind of freshly ground pepper.
4. Throw in a splash or two of champagne vinegar, maybe a bit of olive oil if needed.
5. Taste the salad; add salt, pepper, vinegar, oil as needed.