Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:00

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

As a proper Italian, I could not start this cooking column without a pasta dish, because, let's be honest here, 99.9% of people, when they think about Italian food, the first thing they picture in their heads is pizza and spaghetti.

If you will stick around though, and keep reading my page here in Shanghai Journal, you will find out that a) Italian food is much more than just pizza and pasta, and b) that I am very far from being a traditional/conventional Italian chef.

But for this month, I will just "play it cool" and show you a healthy and very tasty southern Italian dish, a recipe I grew up with in the hot summer days I spent in Lecce during my childhood.

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 300 g pasta (short cut)
  • 2 sweet peppers (red and yellow)
  • 1 big zucchini
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 big eggplant
  • 1/2 cup black olive
  • 6-8 basil leaves
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp + 1tbsp salt
  • half lemon

Let's start by washing our veggies!


Wash 2 sweet peppers (I picked one red and one yellow just for the color effect) and put them in the oven at 200° C until completely cooked.

Then, when they are ready, place them in a Ziploc bag and let them cool completely. This will make it very easy to peel off the skin once they are cold.

Meanwhile, grab a zucchini and slice it up. Do the same with the eggplant

and on a hot grill pan, first grill the zucchini

and set aside.

Then grill the eggplant

and set aside to cool.

When the sweet peppers are cooled, peel them and cut them into small strips. Place them in a bowl and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Also, add a pinch of salt.

Now cut each slice of zucchini into matches

and the eggplant into strips

Then place the zucchini and eggplant in a big bowl.

Next up, grab some cherry tomatoes.

Cut them in half and add them to the bowl.

Then add in some black olives

and the grilled sweet peppers.


Dress the veggies with 1/2 tsp of salt and a generous amount of olive oil. Stir around so all the ingredients get well coated.

Next up, cook about 300 g of short cut pasta according to package instructions, adding about 1 tbsp of salt into the boiling water. When the pasta is ready, drain it and rinse it with cold water.

Then add it to the bowl with the veggies and stir around

Now grab about 100 g of feta cheese and crumble it.

Chop up some fresh basil leaves

and add both crumbled feta cheese and chopped basil leaves to the bowl.

Stir all the ingredients together for one last time.

You can refrigerate the pasta salad for a few hours or serve it immediately, which is what I have done... patience has never been my best quality.

Enjoy my friends, enjoy.



Read 3349 times Last modified on Monday, 05 May 2014 02:22
Daniela Ingrosso

I’m Daniela, Dani… 丹妮, and I was born in the beautiful country of ITALY! :)

I grew up in a picturesque town called Lecce nestled on the “heel of the boot”, Italy’s southern tip, between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Like many traditional families in this sun soaked Mediterranean region, I spent much of my youth under the love and care of my grandmother. Throughout my formative years my grandmother taught me many things but most of all she gave me a passion for cooking. She shared traditional recipes and family culinary secrets passed down through the generations. It is the greatest gift anyone could have bestowed upon me and now I want to share that gift with you.

So how did I end up thousands of miles away from this sundrenched Mediterranean paradise?

It all started at the age of 18 when I started studying Chinese in college. I’ve always been interested in languages and thus began a long journey that eventually led me to move to China. After completing my Masters, I moved to Beijing, the cultural epicenter of the mainland, short after I got a job in Shanghai, which is how I ended up in the mainland’s business capital.

I have lived here for more than 5 years now and, like many of you, I’ve had a hard time preparing a proper western meal and finding proper ingredients, without breaking the bank.

Grocery shopping in Shanghai can be somewhat of an “adventure”. Places like City Shop or Pines that generally cater to expat needs, often have high prices and are often lacking in selection.

I’ve spent a lot of time tracking down the ingredients you’ll need to cook my delicious recipes at affordable prices.

At the end of the day, I just want to build a site where I can share my family’s culinary traditions with you and hopefully have you share whatever delicious treats you may have in store for me.

See my "Expat Cucina" website!

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