Cold Pasta Salad Puttanesca

spaghetti-1392266_1920This is the classic Italian pasta dish, served cold for summer.

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 9 minutes          Level: Easy        Servings: 4


The pasta

  • ½ pound of angel hair pasta, whole grain, cooked

To make it, bring a pot of water to boil, salt it well and cook one half pound of angel hair pasta according to the package directions. You want it to be a little bit pasta al dente but not mushy. Drain it, reserving a half cup of the pasta water. Place cooked pasta in a bowl. Allow the pasta to cool. The Sauce

  • 1 box, a pint, of cherry tomatoes, cut in half with seeds removed
  • 1 shallot, chopped or ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 teaspoons of Gourmet Garden garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden basil paste
  • 2 teaspoons Gourmet Garden parsley paste
  • 1 handful of chopped olives or a tablespoon of tapenade olive spread
  • 1 tablespoon capers, mashed in their brine
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, unseasoned
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Tomato juice


Equipment note: In my dysphagia kitchen, I keep two of my blender of choice, the Ninja, for dishes such as this. The reason I like the Ninja is the double row of blades and the flat bottom. I use one for the puree of the sauce and one for the puree of the pasta. You could use one blender and one mini food processor, and make the sauce in the mini food processor. You need the blender for the pasta.


In the first Ninja, tear up the pasta and place it in the pitcher. Add the cherry tomatoes that have had their seeds removed. It’s OK to keep the juice from the tomato. You can de-seed by cutting in half over a mesh sieve placed over a mixing bowl. Scrape the seeds and juice from the tomato, and the seeds remain behind in the sieve. Add the juice of the tomatoes to the pasta. If you need a little more liquid to get the puree, add tomato juice two tablespoons at a time. You can also use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to spark up this summer pasta salad. This is your pasta. Allow it to rest in the fridge.

For the Sauce

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of the mini food processor and pulse five times to combine. Then puree. Make sure all the ingredients, including the capers, have pureed. If there are any fibers or pieces of vegetable, put the sauce through a mesh sieve with a silicone spatula and leave the fibers behind. The sauce should be smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust.

Note: In a departure from the traditional dish, I used the rice vinegar because it is very mild. One could use white balsamic. You do not want a vinegar that is extremely acidic because you want safety for the swallow. Also, the original version of this dish contains a dash of red pepper flakes, but since this is not good for the swallow, I have eliminated it. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you can add one shot of hot sauce. I use the herb pastes for convenience and for saving time. You could use fresh herbs. Dried herbs are not recommended because the sauce is raw and the herbs would be too abrasive for the swallow.


If the sauce needs thinning, then use the reserved pasta water to thin it. Add it a tablespoon at a time. The sauce should be pudding thickness. It is going into the dish with the pasta.

For Service

Take the chilled pureed pasta in its dish out of the fridge. Add a layer of sauce to the dish with the pasta. You can see the layers, pasta and sauce. The bite consists of half the sauce and half the noodles. Alternatively, you can puree ½ cup of sauce to a cup of noodles. More sauce is fine, to your taste. The dish is then combined, and so is the bite. Either way, the taste is good. The trick for flavor is to get the water for the pasta really salted like sea water so the pasta has flavor. The sauce is flavorful. You want the right balance in the bite.

Swirl Away!


Featured photo credit: Romi via Pixabay, cc