If you're going to a Memorial Day gathering, chances are it's a potluck. This year, bring a pasta salad that will please adults and kids alike. With silky roasted red peppers, oil-packed tuna, and an herbaceous vinaigrette, this one's got lots of Mediterranean flavor, and it comes together quickly with just a few ingredients from your pantry.
Of all the herbs I planted in my garden a couple months ago, the oregano has really taken off like gangbusters. In fact, it was the inspiration for this dish — once I'd trimmed the plant back, I had a generous pile of aromatic leaves that demanded to be used right away. What better way to show off this oregano than in its raw form, coarsely chopped and whisked into a vinaigrette?
Just a couple of sprigs are enough to flavor the vinaigrette, which easily dresses a pound of pasta. Feel free to make this a day before serving, since it gets even better as the pasta absorbs some of the dressing and the flavors have a chance to meld.
Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tuna, and Oregano Vinaigrette
1 pound elbow macaroni
Juice of 2 lemons
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, minced
2 5-inch sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped and chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (5-ounce) cans solid white albacore tuna, drained
1 (8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, cut into 1/4-inch by 1-inch strips
In a large 6-quart or larger pasta pot, boil 4 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, then cook the pasta to al dente, or according to package directions. Drain the pasta into a colander in the sink, and rinse with cold tap water until the pasta has fully cooled. Let the pasta drain for a few minutes, shaking gently once or twice to remove any excess water that may have settled inside of the noodles.
In a 1-pint canning jar or lidded tupperware container, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. Taste and season with salt or pepper as needed.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta, vinaigrette, tuna and roasted peppers, tossing gently so as not to break up the pieces of tuna too much. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a day.
You can substitute any shape of short pasta you like in this recipe — wagon wheels or bow-ties make for a pretty presentation if you've got them on hand, and shorter salad macaroni are a classic option.
If you're using dried oregano instead of fresh, use just a half-teaspoon, and crumble it between your fingers while you're adding it to the vinaigrette to release its volatile oils.