A cold pasta salad makes a simple side to serve at barbecues or picnics, and this one has a punch of extra flavor from salty ricotta salata cheese. Preparing the artichokes takes a few extra minutes, but you can substitute frozen artichoke hearts to save time or if you can’t find baby artichokes. Once you boil the pasta, just toss everything together and as the salad sits, the flavors will meld. Serve it with a grilled steak and corn on the cob, or bring it to the next barbeque with a batch of our homemade lemonade recipe.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 50 mins
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound baby artichokes or 8 ounces frozen and thawed artichoke hearts
- 2 cups yellow and red teardrop tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), halved
- 1 cup thinly sliced basil
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled ricotta salata cheese
- (If you’re using frozen artichoke hearts, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and skip directly to step 7.) Fill a large, nonreactive bowl halfway with water and add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice; set aside.
- Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim the leafy top third with a serrated knife. Pull off the dark outer leaves one by one to reveal the tender yellow inner leaves. Trim the stem bottom.
- Cut around the outside of the artichoke with a paring knife to remove the remaining tough leaf base. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the dark green skin from the stem, smoothing the edges where the leaves were attached.
- Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise through the leaves and stem. Using a small spoon, gently scoop out the tough purple choke and the fuzz found between the leaves and stem; discard.
- Cut each artichoke half in half again lengthwise and place in the reserved lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Remove the artichoke quarters from the lemon water, drop them into the boiling water, and cook until just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the artichokes to the prepared ice water bath until cool. Drain again and pat dry between paper towels. Reserve the boiling water.
- Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the cooked or thawed artichokes, tomatoes, basil, parsley, garlic, and olive oil in a large serving bowl, season generously with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Transfer the pasta to the bowl with the tomato mixture, add the ricotta salata, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
Beverage pairing: Sibilla Falanghina Campi Flegrei, Italy. Falanghina is an ancient grape variety found growing on the rocky slopes of southern Italy. It has pointed green, herbal notes mixed with flowers and soft stone fruit. This all comes together in this medium-bodied, dry wine, which makes it a great example of the grape, as well as a good match with this recipe. The basil and parsley in the salad will play to the wine’s affinity for herbs, while the artichoke will mesh with its greenness.