Pasta Fresca recipe

This is a cold pasta salad recipe that I learned to make in Milan, many, many years ago. I have made this pasta salad for quite a few summer pot lucks and it's always a huge hit. It's also incredibly easy to make. As with any Italian dish, the ingredients are what make it so don't stray! This recipe also includes the traditional Italian way of cooking pasta. Italians are very particular about their pasta and following these few steps guarantees pasta cooking perfection.


  • 1  500 g bag of pasta - I usually use casarecce, cavatelli or strozzapreti, but any noodle that twists and has cavities to hold the sauce will do
  • 1 box of ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Your best olive oil - the sauce doesn't get cooked, so an olive oil with a great raw taste is best
  • 3 plum tomatoes or, if summer tomatoes are ripe, 2 field tomatoes
  • 3 cans of rio mare tuna in oil
  • 15 leaves of fresh basil
  • Fresh mozzarella - you can cut up 1 large ball or purchase a container of the small bocconcini
  • Palm full of salt


Fill the largest pot you have with cold tap water. It should be as full as possible without causing the pot to boil over. Place the lid on the pot and set the temperature to high. Have your pasta bag cut open and ready to dump in the pot and have a spoon ready to stir the pasta once you add it to the boiling water. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, pour table salt into the palm of your hand. You need enough to fill your palm when it is cupped but it shouldn't spill over the edges. Remove the pot lid, add the salt, pour in the pasta, give it a quick stir with your spoon and put the lid back on. All of this should be done fairly quickly. As soon as the pot comes back to a boil, take the lid off and set your timer to the required cooking time on the pasta you purchased.

You can start cutting the tomatoes when you're waiting for the water to boil and finish it off while the pasta is cooking.

Rinse and then cut your cherry tomatoes in half with a sharp knife on a cutting board. Squeeze the tomato halves into a large serving bowl, followed by the halves themselves. The juice from inside the tomatoes will help create your sauce. Now dice your plum or field tomato so they are bite size pieces, removing the core. Add the diced tomatoes to the serving bowl. Open your tuna cans and empty them into the bowl, oil and all. Tear up the basil into small pieces and add to the bowl. Pour 2 long pours in circles of your best tasting olive oil into the serving bowl. I usually count slowly "1, 2" while pouring in a circle, and then again. Take a wooden spoon and press firmly into the tuna so that it flakes apart and mixes well with the other ingredients. Cut up your fresh mozzarella into bite size pieces and add.

Once your timer goes off for the pasta, pour your pasta into a strainer. Drain thoroughly and then add the pasta to the serving bowl. Mix thoroughly, cover and place in the fridge.

Can be served cold or at room temperature.