Pasta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Ricotta Salata

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Heirloom tomatoes are simply amazing. A freshly picked heirloom tomato as it is or hit with a dash of salt and plopped into your mouth screams summer. Not many foods have that ability , but heirloom tomatoes require very little extra doing.

A simple fresh platter of sliced heirloom tomatoes with a hit of aged balsamic and freshly chopped tarragon, or a lovely mixed heirloom salad with chunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella are the perfect compliment to any grilled meat or fish.

I came across a variety of smaller heirloom tomatoes – all various shapes, colors, and sizes- and thought they would work perfectly in a cold pasta salad, with some fresh basil and ricotta salata.

Ricotta salata is a variation of the ricotta you are likely used to using in your lasagna. It is pressed, salted, and dried, giving it a great mildly salty, nutty flavor. It works well with cold vegetables such as in a shaved zucchini salad with orange wedges or in this pasta salad below.IMG_1916

The saltiness of the ricotta salata and the balsamic vinegar work so well together and give the heirloom tomatoes an extra kick. Even though they have a supporting cast in this recipe, the heirloom tomatoes are still the star of the show.

Pasta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Ricotta Salata

Ingredients:

1 lb fusilli or penne pasta, cooked al dente

1 large package ( or 2 small pints) small heirloom tomatoes, variety

1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

5 oz. container crumbled ricotta salata cheese

Directions:

Drain your cooked pasta in a colander, lightly rinsing with cold water to help it cool.

Wash the heirloom tomatoes and then cut them in half (if larger cut further, into quarters). In a large bowl toss the cooled pasta, heirloom tomatoes, grape tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic, a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper, and ricotta salata.

Taste for flavor and adjust to your liking.

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