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.
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
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
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.