Artichoke Pasta Salad with Basil Oil

One of my favorite cafés around Buffalo is Caffé Aroma, located in Elmwood Village. With its corner presence facing the ever-scenic Bidwell Avenue — part of the parkway system designed by Frederick Olmsted — the location is crowded year round. Everything at Caffé Aroma screams local in the most subdued fashion possible; it simply feels like home. While a great spot for the views, ambience, and great coffee and espresso-based drinks, the food served there is equally impressive. Panini, stromboli, salads, pizza, pastries, and cakes are all organized into bowls and baskets, pre-assembled daily, and waiting to be heated or plated when ordered.

And sometimes, these dishes that I order at Caffé Aroma inspire me to make my own at home. One such dish, a pasta salad with artichoke hearts and sliced red peppers, was so light and delicious that I found myself ordering it nearly every time I was there. Although not a new concept, the salad was so tasty that I decided to make my own version. To improve the flavor even more, it would now be updated with an infused olive oil, chiffonade basil, and roasted red peppers.

Ingredient List (makes enough for a crowd)

  • 2 lb Farfalle or Rotini
  • 1 Jar of Roasted Red Peppers
  • 2 Cans of Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 Good Handfuls of Basil
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the Basil-Infused Olive Oil

  1. Add 3/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil to a small saucepan.
  2. Smash the garlic (Don’t mince!) and add it to the oil.
  3. Place over medium heat until the garlic starts to lightly sizzle.
  4. When the garlic is fragrant but not browned, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  5. Add in a handful of coarsely chopped basil leaves, smooshing the leaves against the sides of the saucepan to release all of the flavor.
  6. Add a pinch each of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  7. Cover the pan and let steep for about 30 minutes.

After the oil has steeped, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Make sure to press the garlic and basil against the sieve to extract all of the flavor into the oil.

For the Pasta Salad

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta ‘al dente’, according to the specific pasta’s directions.
  2. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers.
  3. Cut the artichokes into quarters and the peppers into very thin slices.
  4. Chiffonade the remaining handful of basil (stack up, roll up, slice into thin confetti-strips).
  5. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Immediately cover with the infused oil, add the other ingredients, and mix.
  7. Taste for seasoning and add more if necessary.
  8. Chill overnight and serve the next day!


2 Responses to “Artichoke Pasta Salad with Basil Oil”

  1. 1 Colin Shanahan June 14, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    Great job!

  2. 2 Tara June 24, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    yayy matt! im excited to eat this food one day ! i dont know much about cooking but the foods on this blog are looking good 😉

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