Whenever there is a pot luck gathering, I like to bring a pasta salad of some kind. It's easy to transport, easy to make in small or larger quantities, and can be prepared a day ahead of time. For the version I made for last weekend's gathering, I added tuna, bacon, and peppers (capsicum) together with spiral pasta in 2 colours. This pasta is great eaten cold - perfect for bento and picnics, but it can also be heated up if you are serving it at night as a side dish.
Continue reading for the recipe...
Tuna Bacon Pasta Salad
(makes a huge bowl. Decrease the quantities for a smaller portion)
500g spiral pasta (or 250g plain spiral pasta and 250g spinach spiral pasta)
2 red peppers (capsicum)
2 yellow peppers (capsicum)
1 green pepper (capsicum)
200 - 300g bacon (I use back bacon as it has less fat)
2 x 185g canned tuna (in water or olive oil)
2 cloves garlic
light olive oil (or other cooking oil)
1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
Note: The different coloured peppers (capsicum) are used to make the pasta more attractive - you can also just use one colour if you prefer.
1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet (less 1 minute). Drain, rinse under cold water to stop the pasta cooking, then set aside.
2. Dice the red and yellow peppers (capsicum) into small pieces. Dice the green pepper (capsicum) into small pieces and set aside separately. Chop the bacon into small pieces.
3. Peel and chop the garlic.
4. In a large pot (I use the same pot I used to boil the pasta to save on washing up) add a little olive oil (or cooking oil) and fry the bacon on medium heat. Add the red and yellow peppers (capsicum) and fry lightly. Add the canned tuna and stir. Pour the mixture into another bowl and set aside.
5. Rinse out the pot, then add some olive oil (around 4 - 5 Tbsp depending on the amount of pasta you made). Add the chopped garlic, and over low heat, slowly fry the garlic until fragrant and golden. Be careful not to brown or burn the garlic.
6. Turn the heat to high, and pour the cooked pasta into the garlic oil. (You may need to rinse the pasta a little to loosen it if it has stuck together.) Coat the pasta with the garlic oil, then turn the heat to low, and add the tuna bacon mix. Add the tomato pasta, and season with freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Turn off heat, add the uncooked chopped green peppers (capsicum) and stir well. Taste, and season with more pepper, salt and tomato paste if necessary. (The tomato paste is used to add flavour, not to make the pasta taste tomato-y.)
Tip: I find the flavours of the pasta develop well when left in the fridge overnight. If you are making this for a gathering, picnic, or for your bento, make the pasta a day ahead and store it covered in the fridge in an airtight container. Remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.