Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

Today is going to be one of those sweltering, sticky, unbearably hot summer days.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

When New York City gets this warm, it’s a special kind of torture only us tenured urbanites can appreciate. As the temperatures soar the city air slowly becomes a furnace, suffocating your lungs with every shallow, burdensome breathe. The atmosphere brims with oppressive humidity, the streets waft with putrid scents and smells, and even our never-sleeping city feels really, really slow.

These boiling days leave you sweaty and sluggish at the stroke of 5:00pm. The mere thought of moving — let alone cooking — is downright insufferable.

AC, Netflix, and Seamless? Sounds about right.

But on the odd chance that you’ve got a sliver of energy left, I’d like to suggest some pasta salad.

Cool, crisp, oven-free pasta salad.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

Pasta and potato salads are classic barbecue staples, and typically you fall into one camp or the other. Most of my life I was a potato salad kinda gal, particularly if you made it with baby red potatoes, which are the best. But pasta salad and I have never really clicked. Boring, flavorless, and lame — ugh, the mayo! — pasta salad was simply beneath me. But moving to New York exposes you to a lot of new things, and not just other people exposing themselves. It’s a whole world of better culinary experiences, including some grade-A pasta salads.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

My pasta salad renaissance began with a Greek-style rotini salad from Whole Foods. It was loaded with olives, cucumbers, feta, and apparently gold, because it cost like $12. It was insanely, unexpectedly tasty, so I immediately went in search of more. Awhile later I got hooked on a whole-wheat penne salad from Citarella that was SO yummy, I ate it constantly, and eventually gained six pounds. And then finally I started making my own, because I blog and stuff, ya know?

I should really be making my own things.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

I feel a little guilty sharing recipes like this because it’s so damn easy, I’m not sure it’s even really a recipe.  But the weather is soo freakin’ hot I figured now was the perfect opportunity, so let’s get into it, shall we?

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

The nuts and bolts of this salad are chilled pasta noodles + homemade bruschetta + toasted bread cubes – That’s it.  Chilling the noodles in a cold water bath dramatically cuts down the timing of this to just one hour, so be sure to do this with all your pasta salads going forward.  The bruschetta mix is a recipe unto itself that you can save for future reference (super simple, fresh, clean – you get the gist), and the toasted bread cubes can be swapped for stale bread if you have some lying around.  And to tie it all together, I dressed this with an easy Italian vinaigrette recipe I adapted from The Kitchn.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

Because this recipe happens in stages it can feel a little tedious, but that also makes it perfect for jamming out with music, chatting with friends, or recovering after a hot summer day – There’s work to be done, but it doesn’t require a lot of attention.  Another bonus is this recipe’s endless versatility: Pair it as a side for a weekend barbecue, enjoy it as a light lunch over rosé, or make it a complete meal by adding some pre-cooked shrimp, chicken, or steak on top – It works however and whenever you want it to.

Lastly, the final sprinkling of pecorino adds a nutty and bold flavor without needing much, but for a vegan incarnation just skip the cheese or add your own non-dairy variety on top.  And for my vegetarian friends, just follow as written.

Most importantly, this recipe keeps you refreshed and satisfied, even on the most scorching days of summer.

Stay cool loves! x

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino

Ingredients:

  • PASTA SALAD:
  • 1 lb Fusilli Pasta (or your choice of noodle)
  • 5 Beefsteak Tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup Minced Onion
  • 2 tsps Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 1/2 tsps Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn to taste
  • Italian Vinaigrette (see below)
  • Toasted Bread Cubes (see below)
  • 1/2 cup Shaved Pecornio
  • TOASTED BREAD CUBES
  • 12oz Italian Bread (~3/4 of a loaf)
  • 1 1/2 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ITALIAN VINAIGRETTE
  • 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsps White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsps Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 2 tbsps Diced Onion
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Begin by preparing the pasta as directed, making sure you cook the noodles fully, not al dente.  Drain cooked pasta completely, then submerge in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes.  Chill pasta (in its cold water bath) in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. While pasta cooks and chills, dice beefsteak tomatoes into large chunks, then combine with onion, garlic, basil, EVOO, and balsamic vinegar.  Salt & pepper this “bruschetta” mixture to taste, then chill in the refrigerator until needed.
  4. On cutting board slice Italian bread into cubes, then transfer to shallow baking dish.  Drizzle cubes with EVOO and toss to coat, then bake for 30 minutes until bread is browned and crispy.
  5. While the bread crumbs bake, lastly prepare the vinaigrette.  Combine all ingredients in the order instructed, then whisk vigorously until well combined.
  6. When ready to serve, prepare your salad by first combining the baked bread cubes with the chilled “bruschetta”, stirring until well combined.  Next, drain pasta from cold water bath, then evenly toss with Italian vinaigrette.  Stir half the panzanella mixture into the dressed pasta, then transfer to serving bowl.  Top pasta salad with remaining panzanella, sprinkle with shaved pecorino, and serve!

>> If you have stale bread lying around, you can simply cut it up and skip the preparations in step 4.

>> If you’re worried about the bread getting soggy, serve the cubes on the side so people can add them to their portions as they eat.

>> Italian Vinaigrette adapted from The Kitchn.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorinochill vibes.

Quick & Easy Panzanella Pasta Salad w/ Italian Vinaigrette & Shaved Pecorino
Share the love!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on YummlyShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUpon