Tomatoes typically reach their peak in the summer—cue an onslaught of tomato pies and galettes, panzanella salads, and, of course, plenty of caprese. But if you find your tomato craving stretching beyond the confines of warm weather, look no further than Ann Taylor Pittman’s Warm Puttanesca Pasta Salad. In a recent F&W Cooks video, Pittman explains that cherry tomatoes are reliably good all year round, and this meal makes the most of them. There’s crispy prosciutto, fragrant herbs, anchovies, and punches of garlic. The end result is a vibrantly-colored pasta salad that’s good warm or room temperature, perfect for outdoor dining. Check out Pittman’s key tips for making the dish below.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
Traditional puttanesca calls for canned tomatoes, but Pittman opts for cherry tomatoes in her recipe, halved. This ensures they’ll get juicy when they’re tossed with the salt, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, shallots, and red wine vinegar, creating a concentrated tomato juice, Pittman says. After combining everything, let it sit for 20 minutes so there’s enough time for the tomatoes to juice out.
Grate the garlic
Grating the garlic creates a fine pulp, which will give you raw garlic flavor without any big chunks in the salad.
Skip the skillet and crisp your prosciutto in the microwave
Pittman uses the microwave instead of the stove to crisp up the prosciutto, which produces even results and as an added bonus, doesn’t use any oil. After laying out pre-sliced prosciutto over paper towels on a plate, she puts it into the microwave for about one and a half to two minutes. The end results? Shrunken, crisp prosciutto that will crumble easily over the pasta. Once it’s cooled and you’re ready to use it, it should be crispy enough that you hear it crackle when you crumble it.
Use Casarecce pasta
When this pasta cooks, the little folds open up and “hug” the sauce and ingredients, which makes the salad mesh well together.
Don’t forget the anchovies
Anchovies are an important part of puttanesca, adding umami and depth of flavor. Pittman uses three oil-packed anchovies for this recipe, but if you’re “really feeling kicky,” you can use four, she says.
Remove the pasta water before you drain
Once the pasta is al dente, you’re ready to drain; however, Pittman recommends removing pasta water for the sauce beforehand. It’s much easier than draining over a bowl.
Finish the pasta on the stove
Pittman cooks the al dente pasta on the stove with the “sauce” from the tomatoes, getting it to absorb into the pasta. She also adds in the reserved pasta water.
Leave the tomatoes raw
After finishing the pasta on the stove, stir in the tomatoes—remember, this is a pasta salad, so leave them raw and and juicy.
Don’t be shy with the herbs
Pittman adds a handful of fresh herbs, including basil and oregano, to the pasta salad mixture. She also likes to add in Castelvetrano olives, because they’re meaty and buttery, and capers for a briny, salty punch. After mixing everything together, the crumbled prosciutto is the finishing touch.
Serve with white wine
Pittman likes a refreshing, crisp, light white wine with this dish.
Get the recipe here.