I don’t want to burden you with my food hang ups, but you should know that I am repulsed by mayonnaise. I once saw an “I Hate Mayonnaise” T-shirt in NYC and thought to myself, “Ah, finally, someone who understands me.” Homemade mayonnaise is a notable exception; it has a fridge life of a few days, not one year. But industrial mayonnaise is my Kryptonite. If I approach a supermarket deli counter and see potato salad, chicken salad, macaroni salad and cole slaw, all drowning in mayonnaise, I am paralyzed as my gag reflex kicks in.
And so when my multi-talented friend Giulio Orso, from Vicenza, Italy, offered me his wife’s pasta salad recipe, the first question I asked was whether it used mayonnaise. Yes. And two tablespoons was too much for me. (I then asked if his wife was really Italian, and apparently she is and an exceptional cook.) He then offered me his own pasta salad recipe, which uses olive oil as a base. I made it for lunch during a recent heat wave and it really hit the spot on a sultry afternoon. (Please note that due to the heat, I was a little lazy with the chopping and so the pepper strips should be thinner than in the photo. He also suggested eliche for pasta, or fussili.)
Check out our wine pairings to complement this recipe.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until very al dente (2 or 3 minutes less than the package instructions). Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking. Sprinkle with olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. Set aside. Roast the peppers and cut them into thin strips. Slice the salmon into similarly sized thin strips. Pit the olives and cut them in halves. Add the peppers, olives, onion, feta cheese, and the smoked salmon, one at a time, mixing each time before adding the next ingredient. Add olive oil if necessary and salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.
If your peppers are not already roasted your total time will be 1 hour.