Pasta Salad Preview: Pastazanella (First in a 3-part series)

Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber Salad)

Panzanella (Italian Tomato-Cucumber-Bread Salad)

You’ve heard of panzanella, right? That oh so delicious  salad celebrating tomatoes when they’re bursting on the vines–even more handy to have in your recipe repertoire  when you’ve a loaf of slightly stale Artisan bread that’s begging to be utilized? But what about Pastazanella?

I just made a big batch, and I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of that. Pastazanella is a recipe that has–up until this moment–never been recorded,  a dish even unknown to the ubiquitous  Google-bots. It’s like discovering a new star in the solar system!

These three new small pasta shapes are ideal for entertaining.

Wish I could lay fame to the pasta, as well, but credit goes to Al Dente Pasta, which has a new line of 3 Piccolo Pastas. The Bonnetti (little bonnets) is what I substituted for the bread in my Pastazanella that yields absolutely delicious results.

Cut tomatoes and cucumbers into pieces roughly the size of the “bonnets”.

Traditional panzanella is delish hot off the press. But after it sits around, the bread–even with a prior toasting– gets a bit mushy for my palate. It reminds me of the milk toast  forced down me when I had a tummy ache as a tot. Not so Bonnetti, the perfect choice for Pastazanella after cooking the pasta five minutes to perfection.

Today requests a salad for a family reunion that will serve as a side for smoked chickens, and  thrive under an August sun. The Bonnetti will soak up those yummy tomato juices and the acidity (and lack of mayo)  keeps it “safe” insuring even the weeist of  toddlers won’t suffer.

This new line of Piccola Pasta makes for attractive, toothsome salads that are easy for guests to scoop from the bowl. (So annoying  when  those dangling slivers of fettuccines and spaghettis find their way to the floor, instead of the plate.)

Disclosure: Monique and hubby Denny (the owners of Al Dente) have been friends of mine for decades. We got into the pasta business at the same time. In fact, the EXACT same time–1981. She was rolling out sheets of dough uptown at the same time I was extruding them downtown from a pasta machine the size of a Fiat I purchased from Florence. (That’s Florence, Italy, not Alabama). I can vouch that Al Dente Pasta is a delicate yet toothsome pasta like no other on the market–I use it all the time.

I sold my pasta machine along with my business in 2001 (I needed to sit down) and started writing about food–making up characters who were  having even crazier times in the food business than myself. Besides. I was not nearly as successful as the Al Dente folks, whose pastas can be found in groceries and markets across the planet. An additional disclosure– I don’t get paid for writing  food endorsements  I don’t even allow ads and those annoying pop-ups to come near these pages. I just like writing about good food and the good people who enjoy eating it.

Note: After reading this blog my son said a better name for this recipe would be Paztenella. Alas. I just checked and Google  laid stakes into Pastazenella, claiming it as her own.

Have a safe and joyous Labor Day!       Peggy

Recipe: Pastazanella


  • 3 cups (uncooked) Al Dente Bonnetti Pasta
  •  2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1  teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 3 heaping cups of 1/2-inch pieces ripe tomato (1-2 large tomatoes)
  • 2 cups of 1/2-inch pieces seeded cucumber (1 cucumber)
  • 1 (packed) cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, as desired
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as desired
  • 2 tablespoon capers


  1. In rapidly boiling, salted water, cook pasta for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. Whisk remaining olive oil, vinegar and garlic together.
  3. Toss pasta into vinaigrette and stir in tomato, cucumbers, basil and onion. Season to taste with Parmesan, salt and pepper. Let pasta salad sit 30 minutes, or so, for the flavors to combine. Sprinkle capers over top before serving.

Cooking & Prep time: 30 minutes (plus time to let the pasta sit)

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 servings (8 packed cups)

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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