Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Pasta Salad: basically beautiful

SummerPasta-1

As summer rapidly approaches (where did April go?), chat around the coffee machine has begun to revolve around one simple question…

“What are you planting this year?”

As you can guess from a bunch of foodies, many King Arthur Flour employees are avid gardeners. Jeff over in the bakery already has his leek seedlings in, Susan B. is talking beans, and Joan on the Bakers’ Hotline will be growing wonderful heirloom tomatoes again this year. Joan grows things I’ve barely heard of, and she makes the most spectacular salads you’ve ever seen. Working a weekend is something to look forward to when one of Joan’s dishes is on the potluck menu.

Knowing how much we love cooking and baking with our own fresh produce, recipe developer Charlotte in the test kitchen worked hard to create this Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Pasta Salad recipe.

No heavy mayo to weigh down the delicate handmade pasta here, just light, fresh garlic oil and fragrant green basil. A few slivers of lightly fried garlic make a big impact, too.

But the real star of the show are the tomatoes. Red, yellow, green, even striped globes turn this dish into a show-stopper on the table, and a glorious feast for the palate.

While we love to support our local farmers’ market, sometimes the timing isn’t quite right. We’re very lucky in our area to have an excellent food co-op, and several really good grocery stores. Charlotte was able to find some wonderful tomatoes for testing, and we were richly rewarded as taste-testers for several weeks.

Rosemary Hubbard, a former KAF instructor, was my first pasta mentor; and her pick for winter tomatoes was always cherry tomatoes, so that’s what I’ve used in my version of the salad.

If you’ve never made fresh pasta before, you’re in for a treat. It seems very intimidating, but it couldn’t be easier. Mix a dough, let it rest. Roll it, cut it, cook it. Oh yes, then eat it.

In a mixing bowl or your food processor bowl, place:

*For pasta with a little more texture and bite, use 2 cups (9 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Perfect Pasta Blend, or 2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

Mix with the paddle attachment or by hand until a cohesive dough forms. If using a food processor begin by pulsing, then run the machine until the dough binds together.

You can see at this point the dough is not particularly smooth. It will seem just barely sticky when you touch it, but not really wet.

From here, you can pulse your processor for another few seconds until the dough smooths out; or if making in your mixer, switch to the dough hook for just another minute or two.

However, I like to get hands into the dough, so I can feel as it changes from rough to smooth. Knead as you would knead bread dough, though the texture of pasta dough is much firmer.

When the dough is smooth, wrap it well in plastic wrap and set aside to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The flour will continue to absorb moisture, and the gluten will have a chance to relax.

While the pasta is relaxing, let’s work on the garlic oil dressing for the salad.

Heat 2 tablespoons garlic oil or olive oil in a small skillet until hot. Add 4 thinly sliced cloves of garlic and frizzle until the garlic just turns golden. Watch this like a hawk, as garlic burns more easily than a redhead in the sun. (Shout out to my favorite redhead – you know who you are!).

Scoop out the garlic with a slotted spoon and place it on paper towels to drain for a few minutes.

To dress the tomatoes: in a large bowl, place –

2 pounds fresh tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, even plum will work well), cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt; Maldon sea salt is a good choice
1/2 cup fresh whole basil leaves

Pour the garlic oil over all, and add the garlic slices. Set aside to marinate as you roll out and cook your pasta.

While you certainly can roll and cut the pasta by hand, having a pasta machine makes this an easy task. Our model uses a C-clamp to cling to your countertop, and the sturdy mechanism rolls like a charm with just a turn or two of the handle.

Thinner and thinner, longer and longer. As you turn the dial to reduce the space between the rollers, your sheets will shrink in thickness, but grow in length.

Trim the thin pieces into workable sizes. I don’t worry too much about perfectly straight edges, as you can see; but if you like that, go for it.

Allow the sheets to dry for about 15 to 30 minutes. Test-baker Frank says he leaves his sheets for 2 to 3 hours, so that may work out better for your timetable. The sheets should be slightly drier and a little stiff to the touch to go through the cutters well. If the pasta is still soft, it may not cut well into strands.

By the way, now’s a good time to get that pot of water heating. Remember, fresh pasta will cook in about 3 to 4 minutes, much faster than dried pasta, so you need to have everything ready before the pasta hits the water.

Our pasta maker also includes one two-sided cutter attachment. Depending on which size you use you can make thin spaghetti, or fatter linguine.

Did you notice how fancy Charlotte’s noodles are? She used a wavy-edged pie cutter to get that look. Neato!

With a few twists of the handle, you’ll soon have a pile of pasta ready for the pot. Allow the strands to stand and dry while you bring your water to a boil. Allowing the strands to dry a bit can keep them from sticking together in the water.

Okay, flight-check time. Water boiling? Check. Tomatoes dressed? Check. Table set, guests arrived? Check.

OK, we’re ready to go.

Scatter the pasta into the water and stir to separate the strands. They’ll float to the top almost immediately. Continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, testing a strand here and there for doneness.

The pasta will also lighten in color as it cooks, going from an eggy yellow to a paler, whiter color.

Take a peek at all the yummy juices the tomatoes have produced as they’ve sat. Can’t wait to toss that with our pasta!

Once the pasta is cooked, rinse it briefly under running water and allow to drain in a colander for 8 to 10 minutes to avoid a soupy salad. Then toss away!

The rich scents of garlic, basil, and tomato swirl through the kitchen as you toss the pasta together.

Grab a hunk of bread and a glass of wine, and settle in for a good meal.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Pasta Salad.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Susan Becker

    I got to have some… very yummy!
    Thanks honey! Glad I could give you a nice veggie snack in the afternoon. ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Bridgid

    If I can’t be your favorite redhead, can I be on the list for wanna-bes? Guess what I am making this weekend with my new pasta machine that my husband bought me?
    oooooO, didn’t know YOU were a redhead too Bridgid! You are definitely on the list. Heaven forbid you ever meet up with my #1, Lainey. She would spill all of my secrets to her fellow ginger, and I’d be doomed. :)
    ~MaryJane

    ps. Have a great time making the pasta salad too. It is delish. More pasta recipes coming this summer too, so stay tuned. ~ MJ

    Reply
  3. knemeyer

    I’m hitting a new farmer’s market here in Vegas tomorrow. I’ll be on the lookout for some heirlooms so I can try this salad. What’s the difference of letting the pasta dry 15-30 minutes vs. Frank’s 2-3 hours? If you do let them go the longer time, do you let the tomato mixture marinate at room temp for that time or do it in the refrigerator?
    Frank lets his pasta dry longer to give it a better chance of not falling apart in the boiling water. There is a great episode on “Cooking with Jamie” (Oliver) on making fresh pasta. He really demystifies the art of pasta making.
    I would not refrigerate the tomatoes, they will lose their flavor. Instead, make the salad closer to the time you are going to cook the pasta. betsy@kaf

    Reply
  4. jlgirl617

    I’ve only tried making fresh pasta once, and it was with primarily AP flour. I wasn’t thrilled with the texture; a little too soft, and un-pasta-y. Since I don’t have durum flour or perfect pasta blend, would bread flour give it a little more bite? I know (or think I know) that the durum is a hard wheat but doesn’t make much gluten, and that the bread flour would be harder to roll out, but would it give a chewier, more pasta-like texture than AP? Or should I just save the bread flour to make an Italian loaf to go with pasta? :) Go ahead and experiment, it maybe just the texture you are looking for. As you know it will be harder to role out and will spring back, but it will certainly be chewier!

    Reply
  5. flouronmyface

    That salad looks so good! This recipe makes me want to pull out my old pasta roller and make some fresh pasta right now!

    I’ve got a couple heirloom tomato plants growing in my container garden. And I just picked up a heirloom yellow tomato plant today.

    Reply
  6. misoranomegami

    Susan will be growing tomatos? Sometimes I forget just how far north y’all are. I’ve had 5 plants in the ground since mid March and have fruit on 4 of them! The farmers markets run year round with greens in some areas and my usual produce stand tomato source traditionally runs Easter to Halloween. I may have to get a pasta roller though. I have the kitchenaid sausage/pasta press but it pushes linguine out in a circle and the pieces stick all together.
    Yeah, for most of us the gardens are still in planning stages still, but our fingers are itching to get in the dirt! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Margy

    I bet this would make a great panzanella salad! Skip the pasta; combine the tomato mixture with chunks of good French or Italian bread (stale or toasted) and let all those yummy juices soak in!

    Reply
  8. milkwithknives

    Whoa, how did I miss this glorious post? Hooray for the pasta-making lesson! My husb and I make fresh pasta at least once a week. We invested in the Kitchenaid attachment a few years ago and have nearly run the poor thing into the ground. We mix different flours all the time (whole wheat, brown rice, rye, spelt, buckwheat, etc.) and have never had a bad outcome. There is no going back to grocery store pasta after you have tasted the heavenly homemade. I’m trying out Great Whites and Roman Candles this year in my garden and will certainly give this beautiful salad a whirl when they ripen. Thanks SO MUCH for giving pasta some attention and I’m really looking forward to your future posts.

    Reply

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