The Café is heading home today after a lovely week of vacation on the coast of South Carolina. We've loved every minute of this precious time with family............. though, if you peeked in on us at any given time, the word ............
.............. cacophony might just come to mind. Cacophony? Yup, it's defined as, "a mixture of sounds, as in a cacophony of horns during a traffic jam". Another definition describes it as, "what you'd hear if you gave musical instruments to a group of four-year olds and asked them to play one of Beethoven's symphonies". With five children, seven years and under, there's never a dull moment, always lots of entertainment, a healthy dose of drama and lots of pure, unadulterated noise!
The only problem with the word cacophony is that the dictionary says that the conglomeration of sounds that make it up are "discordant" or "harsh"............ Nope, not to this Grammy and Papa; this cacophony of talking, singing, crying, shrieking, laughing, etc. is music to our ears; maybe it's because we so clearly recall how quickly and elusively these early childhood years slip by.
Despite all the craziness and even on vacation, I enjoy cooking delicious meals for the family. I do try to keep them simple, fresh, light and easy to put together. This Pesto, Pepper and Sopressato Pasta Salad is one that can be prepared early in the day and brought to room temperature an hour or so before serving. Everyone loved it one sunny day this week for a picnic lunch on the beach and even the wee ones gobbled it up.
If you're not familiar with Sopressata, you'll want to get acquainted. It's a delicious Italian salami that's loaded with savory, spicy flavor. It comes in "sweet" and "hot" varieties, both are wonderful, just choose according to your palate. It's available at most larger groceries in the deli section. I chose the Boar's Head brand and it was wonderful sliced super thin and added a bit of Mediterranean flair to the lunch.
Purchased pesto, diluted with a bit of extra virgin olive oil makes a super easy, super delicious dressing for the salad (of course, it you have your own homemade pesto, well, bravo to you!). Besides the Sopressato, I added sweet cherry tomatoes, finely diced golden bell pepper and lots of creamy fresh mozzarella. A scatter of fresh herbs is a tasty and pretty finishing touch.
Pesto, Pepper & Sopressato Pasta Salad
1 pound pasta*, cooked according to package directions and drained
⅓ cup pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or a bit more if the pesto is really thick
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut in ½-inch pieces
½ large bell pepper, diced small, I used golden, but any color bell pepper is fine
4 ounces Sopressata**, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh herb leaves, for garnish if desired
1. Cook pasta according to package directions or until al dente. Drain well and drizzle with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. (This will prevent pasta from sticking together) Toss well to coat with oil and allow to cool to lukewarm.
2. Combine pesto and olive oil and stir well with a small whisk or a fork. Set aside.
3. Add all other ingredients to pasta and stir gently to distribute ingredients. Drizzle with the pesto/olive oil mixture, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir again. Serve at room temperature. If making ahead, refrigerate until one hour before serving. Bring to room temperature and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil just before serving. Garnish with fresh herb leaves if desired.
* ~ I love to find fun shaped pasta. The one I used for this salad is called torchio (resembling little torches) gigli, orecchiette, farfalle, conchiglie or radiotori would also work wonderful. Feel free to use your own favorite.
** ~ Sopressato is an aged Italian salami which is available in many larger groceries in the deli section. I used the Boars Head brand which is very delicious and comes, prepackaged in a 9-ounce portion. It's about 1-inch in diameter and works well, sliced thin in this salad. You could also cube it or quarter the slices if the diameter is larger. It comes in "sweet" and "hot" varieties. We like the "sweet" but choose according to your palate.