Cooking without recipes: Summery pasta salads

Who needs a recipe to make pasta??? The best thing about pasta is precisely that you can put whatever you like with your farfalle or spaghetti or penne and it’ll be just fabulous. 

I love pasta!

Of course, there are a few codified recipes that merit precision – all’arrabiata, alla puttanesca, alla carbonara… “Carbonara is NOT made with cream!”, one might exclaim. Indeed it is not, but pasta with cream tastes wonderful, too. Just don’t call it “carbonara”.

In the summer, I often make cold pasta salads with meat or fish as a complete meal, or without as a side dish to go with something off the barbeque.

I don’t need/use a recipe because I use whatever I have in the house – in the past, I have put in cooked aubergine, fried onions, raw zucchini or grated carrots. You can throw in capres, olives, chopped dill pickles. Add apples, grapes, dried apricots for a sweet-and-savoury mix. You can put in sardines, tuna or makerel from the tin, or leftover tuna steak from last night’s barbeque, or raw, marinated salmon… Add garlic croutons, diced gouda cheese, Roquefort, or mix a tablespoon of cream cheese into the dressing. Snip in some fresh dill, basil, parsley, coriander… or toss in a spoonful of dried Herbes de Provence. You can dry-roast pecane nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, black sesamethe only limit is your imagination or your larder!

What I had today:

– a small tin of sweet corn

 – a small onion

– 1/2 clove of garlic

– 1/2 pack of rashers

– 1 large tomato (it was coeur de boeuf, “beef heart”)

– 2 peaches


– some parmesan shavings

What I did:

cooked the pasta until it was al dente and rinsed with cold water

chopped the onion and added it to the drained pasta with the corn and diced tomato

on a cast-iron griddle pan, I fried the cut-up rashers until crispy, fried zucchini slices until half-done, seared the peeled and stoned peach slices

made a dressing with a spoon of mustard, salt, pepper,, the crushed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil

mixed it all, topped it with some parmesan shavings and put in the fridge for half an hour


The peach worked really well with the savoury ingredients. The boys loved it, but reckoned they would have liked twice as much bacon. Maybe next time.


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