Making a good pasta salad is certainly simple, but if you want a tasty and healthy dish, lemon orecchiette with tuna meatballs are perfect.
Salad with cold pasta is the ideal solution for a tasty and rich meal, one that you can either take to the office for a fresh and regenerating lunch break or enjoy while chilling under a beach umbrella, for an outdoor picnic or a dinner with friends.
Although any type of pasta is theoretically suitable for preparing a cold summer pasta salad, the short ones are the best for these recipes.
So I chose the Orecchiette Sgambaro Etichetta Gialla (Yellow Label) which, with their concave shape and rough surface are guaranteed to soak up all sauce. And they make you feel like you were on holiday in Apulia!
The Orecchiette are made with 100% Italian “Marco Aurelio” durum wheat, like the Spaghettoni I used for this recipe. Selected through 15 years of research, Marco Aurelio is an important durum wheat variety and this is why it is named after an emperor (Marcus Aurelius), and has been among the best Italian grains for years.
Ingredients (serves 4):
150 g cherry tomatoes
black or green olives, as you prefer
extra virgin olive oil
For the tuna meatballs:
150 g drained oil packed tuna
240 g boiled chickpeas
extra virgin olive oil
To prepare the meatballs, mix the drained tuna with the chickpeas and a little salt and pepper in the blender until you achieve an even-textured dough. With your hands lightly greased with oil, make small dough balls the size of a small walnut. Continue until you finish the dough (you will get about 18/20 tuna meatballs).
Lay the meatballs on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or Silpat (more eco-friendly), heat the oven at 200 ºC and bake for 12/15 minutes. Alternatively, cook them in a non-stick pan: use 2/3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and cook for about 5/6 minutes, stirring often.
In a large bowl, prepare the dressing: emulsify 4 tablespoons of oil with the juice of a lemon, add salt and pepper and add the previously chopped parsley.
Bring plenty of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the Orecchiette.
Drain the pasta slightly “al dente” or in any case a couple of minutes earlier than the time indicated on the package. Place the pasta in a large, lightly greased container and let it cool. Do not cool the pasta with cold water as this removes part of the starch which helps binding the sauce to the pasta.
Put the pasta into the bowl with the sauce, add the tomatoes cut in half, the olives and the tuna meatballs, mixing everything well. Serve at room temperature.
Monica Bergomi (aka @lalunasulcucchiaio)