Photo by Karen Tedesco
At some point this summer, if you are invited to an outdoor cookout, one of the guests will inevitably bring The Rotini Salad.

You know The Rotini Salad I’m talking about. It’s the one with the boiled white spiral noodles, chopped bell peppers, maybe some cucumber, and a slick sheen of storebought Italian dressing. The pasta, overcooked and coated in cheap oil, evades the tines of your plastic fork, causing you to chase it all over your plate. The taste, after you finally stab a bite, makes you wonder how this bland, slightly chemical-flavored dish ever installed itself as a traditional American picnic dish.

It’s time to do better.

Pascal Lorange, executive chef of Fig & Olive in New York City has created a summer pasta dish that will make The Rotini Salad quiver in its Tupperware bowl.

He starts with spaghetti, cooked al dente, dresses the pasta with a Niçoise olive and basil tapenade, and then tosses in a harvest of grilled fresh seasonal vegetables. Then, he allows the flavors of the medley to meld in the refrigerator and serves the dish cold.

This pasta salad is everything The Rotini Salad is not. The texture of the pasta is tender, but still has bite. The olive tapenade punches up the flavor with a dose of briny salt. And the vegetables are worth picking out and eating on their own—so much more than additions of color.

Make a batch. Bring it to your next party. We’ll fight the scourge of The Rotini Salad, together, one cold spaghetti salad at a time.

Cold Spaghetti Salad With Grilled Vegetables And Niçoise Olive-basil Tapenade

Recipe by Pascal Lorange, executive chef of Fig & Olive in New York City

What you’ll need:
½ lb spaghetti
½ cup olive oil, plus 1/3 cup
½ lb pitted Niçoise olives
1 tsp Tabasco
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cherry tomatoes
¼ lb cippolini onions, halved and peeled
½ zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
1 Japanese eggplant, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
1 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it:

1. In a large pot, boil water with salt and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Cook the spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Rinse with cool water to prevent overcooking. Drain and then transfer to a sheet pan. Coat with 2 Tbsp olive oil to prevent sticking. Reserve.
2. While the pasta cooks, make the tapenade. In a blender or food processor, add the olives, 1/3 cup olive oil, Tabasco, and basil. Pulse until slightly chunky and season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
3. Preheat your grill to direct high heat or until coals are white and ashy. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and eggplant with ¼ cup olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Place a cast-iron skillet over one section of the grill grates and allow to heat. Char the tomatoes and onions in the skillet until the pick up a char and soften slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Grill the zucchini and eggplant on the grates until charred and softened slightly, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the vegetable from the grill and allow to cool.


4. Dice the zucchini and eggplant and add them to a large bowl along with the spaghetti, tapenade, tomatoes, onions, Parmesan, and additional salt and pepper, if needed. Toss well and refrigerate about 1 hour before serving. Makes 8 servings, as a side.

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Source : Men’s Health

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