Summer is the perfect time for picnics and barbecues and what could be a better accompaniment than a delicious tomato pasta salad?
This dish takes very little time to prepare; 10 minutes to chop and mince, only minimal cooking time (just enough to boil a pan of water and cook the pasta to al dente), and a half an hour to cool, this is a salad that can be whipped up quickly for those last minute events.
Well, first off we say, “why not”? But to expand the answer, tomatoes are incredibly beneficial. They are great for the skin and the lycopene, a natural antioxidant, in tomatoes is a cancer fighting agent, reducing the growth of cancerous cells and lessening the likelihood of developing prostate, colorectal, and stomach cancer. They also contain a lot of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene (the redder the tomato the more beta-carotene it contains) which all work simultaneously to neutralize harmful free radicals in the blood.
Free radicals are dangerous because they can lead to cell damage by corrupting DNA molecules. Antioxidants can help reduce the damage they cause
Just a word of note though, cooking destroys Vitamin C so try to eat raw tomatoes to maintain their benefit.
Tomatoes also contain coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid which help to protect the body from carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.
Thanks to the Vitamin B and potassium contained in tomatoes, they are also a heart healthy food, reducing cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, preventing heart attacks, strokes, and heart-related diseases. Plus, they are chocked full of the chromium which may help diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
The mighty tomato isn’t done yet; they are also good for hair and eyes. The Vitamin A (fantastic for improving vision) in tomatoes works perfectly to keep your hair shiny and strong and works miracles for your eyes, skin, bones and teeth. Eating tomatoes also fights off night blindness.
Some studies have also shown that tomatoes can even reduce your chances of kidney stones.
Another disease fighting ingredient in this salad is garlic. Did you know that eating garlic regularly has been linked to helping to reduce and prevent four of the major causes of death worldwide: heart disease, stroke, cancer, and infections?
This recipe calls for minced garlic, and regardless of whether you choose to use it in a raw or cooked form, mincing the cloves and letting them sit is ultimately what releases the health benefits. Chopping activates alliinase enzymes in the garlic’s cells, and then letting the garlic sit for 10 minutes allows these enzymes to convert some of the garlic’s allin into allicin (which is the source of many of the benefits found in garlic).
What you will need for the salad:
3 large ripe tomatoes
⅓ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. each salt and pepper
¼ tsp. dried oregano
12 oz fusilli pasta (or your favorite pasta)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
How to prepare tomato pasta salad:
Place tomatoes, onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and dried oregano in a large bowl and toss together. Let the combination stand at room temperature for at least a half an hour (or until tomatoes release their natural juices) and mix occasionally. Do use extra virgin olive oil if possible, as it is the highest-quality olive oil that you can buy; it retains more flavor, has a lower level of oleic acid than other olive oil types, and it also contains more of the olive’s natural vitamins and minerals.
Fill a large pot (these stone pots and pans heat up quickly on fire and are even faster on an induction stovetop) with 5-6 quarts of water per pound of pasta, add a dash of salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Add pasta, cook for 6-7 minutes, and taste (be sure to cool pasta before tasting). Pasta should be firm and not mushy. Cooking times will vary so if pasta is not ready after 7 minutes continue to check every 30 seconds until done.
When the pasta is al dente, use a colander to drain off the water (be careful, steam will burn). Do not rinse with cold water as it will remove away the flavor of the pasta.
Combine pasta in the bowl with tomatoes and lightly toss. Chill, add in basil, and mix before serving. This delicious tomato pasta salad can be stored in the fridge for a day.
This is a perfect side dish for your main grill at a barbecue, easy to take with to a picnic, or make it for a light spring or summer lunch on the weekend (plus leftovers make a great addition to your packed lunch for work the next day).