How to prepare pasta fredda?

As sunny days arrive, the desire for hot dishes decreases and the desire to be outdoors increases.
Pasta fredda (cold pasta) is the ideal dish to bring flavor, color, and lightness to the table. It is also versatile, it lends itself to many variations in taste and can adapt to all occasions, more or less informal. Depending on your preferences, it is possible to prepare it based on vegetables, meat, fish, and with many different formats such as spaghetti, mezze penne, conchiglie, trenette, and many others. Lastly, the most important thing is to obtain the right consistency.

Cold pasta: mistakes to avoid

The most common mistake is to let it dry during cooling to the point of being forced to add oil, resulting in a greasier dish than necessary. To avoid this, it is essential to gently drain the pasta, stopping the cooking under a light jet of cold water. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to keep a cup of cooled cooking water. This could be used, if necessary, to thin out too thick a sauce (such as those based on pesto).

What are the most suitable formats for cold pasta recipes?

The first rule is banal but essential: it is better to choose short pasta shapes.

Penne and mille rigate are the ideal shapes to accommodate the few fresh ingredients on the plate that will be inserted into the cold pasta, giving it more flavor. If you choose a sauce or pesto, the combination with fusilli and orecchiette is excellent. To give a touch of joy to the dish we suggest farfalle, while the queens lend themselves to more refined recipes.

Wheels, tortiglioni, lilies, and radiators are obviously also fine.

Cold pasta salad: some ideas

When choosing the ingredients we can really let ourselves be guided by our tastes: cold pasta is able to satisfy practically all of them. If we like cheeses, we can focus on mozzarella or tasty feta, for example to prepare cold Greek pasta.

  • Pesto is an ideal ingredient for seasoning cold pasta: fragrant, aromatic, colorful, it instantly makes our first summer dish even richer. In the more classic version you can also combine it with potatoes and green beans: delicious!
  • A winning combination is between courgettes and basil pesto.
  • You surely know pasta alla norma, a Sicilian specialty with aubergines and salted ricotta.
  • The combination of pistachio pesto and prawns is the winning formula, try it to believe it.
  • We can also focus on raw ham: we all know that it goes well with melon. You have probably never associated this tasty combination with the idea of ​​a first course, but I assure you that the result is very tasty. The cold melon and raw ham pasta with added feta will surely win you over.

If we prepare a cold pasta salad, should the freshly drained pasta be cooled under cold water?

Pasta is loved by adults and children. However, whether or not it should be passed under cold water at the end of cooking is a question on which minds are divided.

When cooking in boiling water, a thin sticky layer of starch forms on the surface of the pasta.

Passing the pasta under cold water is helpful if you want to prepare a pasta salad: in fact, rinsing it under running water eliminates the starch from the surface.

The dough does not stick and cools quickly, so you can proceed immediately with the preparation.

If, however, you want to serve the pasta with a hot sauce, it is better to avoid running it under cold water at the end of cooking. The starch layer, in fact, ensures that the sauce adheres better to the pasta, thus obtaining a desired effect.

Just before draining the pasta, it is very useful to take a cup of the cooking water from the pan: pouring a small amount onto the still hot pasta prevents lumps from forming. Another possibility is to mix the sauce with the hot pasta immediately after draining it. Additionally, the cooking water can be used to dilute the sauce.

If you want to dress your pasta with a hot sauce, you should also avoid adding oil after draining. On the contrary, it is useful to add oil if you want to serve the pasta plain or as a pasta salad.

Cold Pasta Salad with Ham, Mozzarella, and Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 300g pasta (short pasta like fusilli, penne, or farfalle)
  • 150g prosciutto cotto, diced
  • 150g mozzarella, diced
  • 100g assorted cheese (whatever you have in the fridge), diced
  • 100g Taggiasca olives, pitted
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 zucchini, diced and boiled
  • 100g artichokes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 100g pickled onions, drained
  • Assorted pickles (optional)
  • 1 can of tuna, drained
  • Fresh herbs (basil, chives, etc.), chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Mayonnaise, to taste

Instructions:

  • Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool the pasta quickly. Drain well.
  • Prepare the ingredients: While the pasta is cooking, prepare all the other ingredients. Dice the prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, and any other cheese you have. Dice the tomatoes and boiled zucchini. Drain and chop the artichokes and pickled onions. Drain the tuna. Chop the fresh herbs and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Combine everything: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled pasta with all the prepared ingredients: prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, assorted cheese, olives, tomatoes, zucchini, artichokes, pickled onions, optional pickles, tuna, fresh herbs, and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Dress the salad: Add mayonnaise to taste and gently mix everything together until well combined. Start with a few tablespoons and add more if needed, ensuring all ingredients are lightly coated.
  • Season: Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Chill: Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to let the flavors meld together.
  • Serve: Give the pasta salad a good stir before serving. Enjoy it as a refreshing and satisfying meal on a warm day!

Tips: feel free to customize the salad with other vegetables or proteins you have on hand.
For a lighter version, you can substitute some of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or a vinaigrette dressing.