Seashells with basil, tomatoes, and garlic

July 8, 2012

Seashell pasta salad with basil, tomatoes, and garlic

This seashell pasta dish was a big hit at our 4th of July gathering and it's perfect for any outdoor cookout or picnic!  For outdoor get-togethers, I prefer to take side dishes that don't have to be kept warm or cold; just to make it easier. Since this one doesn't have any mayo, it's perfect served at room temperature.

Seashells with basil, tomatoes, and garlic
(adapted from Sunset Magazine, June 2012)

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
3/4 t. sea salt
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 pt. small cherry or teardrop tomatoes (I used sugar plums)
1 lb medium seashell pasta
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shaved
1/2 c. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes and salt and simmer on very low heat for 5 minutes or so; being careful not to burn the garlic.  Slice half of the tomatoes and stir the tomatoes into the mixture and simmer another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and place in a large bowl. Place the other half of the sliced tomatoes into the mixture and stir. Let stand for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Raw tomatoes get juicy as they stand, which helps create the sauce.)

Meanwhile, cook pasta as package directs for al dente  in a large pot of salted water. When done, drain and toss pasta with tomato mixture, then with the cheese and all but 1 tbsp. basil. Sprinkle remaining basil on top and season with a little salt, to taste.

Voila! Super simple, healthy and delicious. I got so many compliments on this salad that I'll definitely be making it again. 🙂

Note: If you want to make this even easier, the original recipe from Sunset didn't call for simmering the garlic or tomatoes; they were just tossed all in a bowl to stand. Since I feel like some people don't enjoy raw garlic and I added the red pepper flakes to the recipe, I wanted to try simmering them all together before letting it stand and it worked out great.

Enjoy!

BigSis' Vegan Twist:  This recipe would be a piece of cake to veganize. All you have to do is cut the parmesan and make sure that your pasta doesn't have any eggs in it (most doesn't). You could add a cubed vegan cheese, but what I would probably do instead is add some sliced kalamata olives. You'd get nice briny flavor from the ollies, plus great color contrast. I'm thinking that drained capers and snipped chives would also be really tasty.

~LilSis

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