April 2012


Some time ago, there was a small café in Newport, RI, called Cappuccino’s. It seemed that I enjoyed their pasta salad for days on end and eventually deconstructed it to develop a similar recipe. This has become a summertime favorite in my family. We’ve already made it twice this spring.

Cappuccino’s signature pasta was a curvy twist. My preference is Ruote (also known as Wagon Wheels). Another favorite is Festoni.  In a pinch, I’ll select Penne e Ziti Rigati or even Gnocchi Sardi.

As recipes go, this one lacking in specifics. A little more or a little less of each ingredient will be fine! You’ll be busy chopping so this is a great recipe when you have an extra pair of helping hands. My daughters are a big help for this recipe!

You’ll need to have a very large pasta bowl for this abundance of goodness!

1 package of Vicidomini Ruote Pasta, 500 grams

½ C + Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, such as Titone DOP Biologica, Gerbino Organic, or Santisi

½ – ¾ C DeCarlo Sun Kissed Tomatoes, or sliced sun dried tomatoes

1-2 C fresh broccoli flowerettes, microwaved for 2 minutes to bright green, with a nice bite

1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper, diced

½ C chopped olives, try Olives from our Savory Pantry or your favorites

1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

½ C celery, chopped

2 scallions/green onions, chopped

½ – ¾ C canned garbanzo beans, drained

6 slices cooked bacon (or pancetta!), crumbled

¼ C basil leaves, slivered

1-2 fresh lemons, juiced (to taste)

Ravida Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Other seasonings to taste

*Good Quality Mayo

Fill an 8-Qt pot with water and heat to boiling. Begin chopping vegetables! Add pasta. While pasta is cooking, microwave the broccoli and cook the bacon.  If you are really fast you can get all of the chopping done before the pasta has cooked.  Drain the pasta while still al dente and rinse to cool the pasta.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Add more olive oil as needed. If you like your salad to be a bit creamy, stir in mayo. Chill before serving.

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Are you dreaming of Tuscany? We can help with our step by step guide:

1. Order a Tuscan extra virgin olive oil from Olio2go. This week, we’re recommending Pace da Poggio Etrusco from the estate of Pamela Sheldon Johns. We found this post on making olive oil (Pace da Poggio Etrusco!) on one of our favorite blogs, Elizabeth Minchillini in Rome. Take a look at this fabulous verdant green oil. This is the oil in the stainless steel tin available at Olio2go. (Recently when I didn’t have any Sicilian oil at home, I used Pace da Poggio Etrusco for the Lemon, Olive Oil and Almond Biscotti with great results!

2. For added inspiration, add a cookbook, such as Pamela’s newest tome: Cucina Povera.

3. Add 50 Great Pasta Sauces and 50 Great Appetizers to your cart. Check out. (If you buy all four items, we’ll mark your order for free shipping. Use our web form to send a note and we will adjust the pricing before shipping your order. Quantites are limited. Orders must be placed by April 25th at midnight).  

4. Recieve your order, cook a meal, and fall in love.

5. Plan a visit to Pamela’s estate in Tuscany and take one of her tours or workshops!

Pamela Sheldon Johns is a noted cookbook author and we are thrilled to carry the oil from her Tuscan estate, Pace da Poggio Etrusco.

Photo Credit: DomenicaCooks.com

My passions for Italian food and culture are carried forth in any number of ways. I visit every “Italian store” I can find (often comparing it to the store of my childhood, Bari Imports, with its barrels of baccala). If I find olive oil in the back corner of a gourmet store, I will engage the proprietor in a conversation about the oil. Sometimes I will reveal my role in the business.  Sometimes not. (Yesterday when visiting a store I found a 2009 (!) priced at $39.95 for 500 ml. I shudder to think how many remain in the back room).

In the guise of research, aka surfing the web at work, my passion for Italian food leads me to seek Italian recipes with a theme. Currently, that theme is Biscotti. No long ago we posted Nona’s recipe in a recent blog post. And we are currently enamored with these two recipes found on Serious Eats and Domenica Cooks.

The Lemon, Olive Oil, and Almond Biscotti recipe nicely references using a Sicilian Olive Oil. Full-flavored Sicilians such as Titone, Planeta, and Zisola Extra Virgin Olive Oil have the characteristics –a perfect match for these biscotti. (Titone was also recently featured in our blog post on Organic certification).  Must confess to making these with a Tuscan oil, Poggio Etrusco from Pamela Sheldon Johns’ Tuscan estate.

Rich, toasty, and crumbly, the lemon biscotti, provide for a fresh break with morning coffee or later, with tea!

Another fabulous choice: Domenica Marchetti’s Cheese Biscotti are perfect with a salumi platter or a light soup meal. I think they are divine with a rich tomato-based soup. Read the comments from others and you’ll soon be rushing off to buy her cookbooks. Hint: we have her pasta cookbook, The Glorious Pasta of Italy.

As always, use the best ingredients for the best results.

P.s. I’ve been munching on Mattei Biscotti di Prato while writing this post!