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Sicilian Pasta Salad

(Serves 4)

  • 1 cup prepared mayonnaise
  • 1 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped fine
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine
  • 1 tsp basil (fresh chopped or dried)

Mix above to make aioli dressing.

  • 12 oz spiral pasta (3-color), cooked al dente & rinsed in cold water
  • sliced olives (4½ oz can)
  • ½ small red bell pepper, chopped into 1/8-inch pieces
  • ½ medium carrot, shredded into 1-inch slivers
  • ½ medium tomato, chopped into ¼-inch pieces

  1. Toss everything together.
  2. Serve on bed of shredded lettuce on each plate.
  3. Top with thin tomato slices, thin rings of red onion, additional carrot shreds, and freshly grated hard cheese (e.g., parmesan or romano).

This salad is substantial enough to serve as a main dish on hot summer days, and interesting enough to serve to company. If you really like garlic, use even more than the recipe calls for; it’s best when there’s so much garlic that it bites your tongue. This is my adaptation of a dish served at the Düsseldorf Café, on Divisadero Street in San Francisco, near Mt. Zion Hospital where my Psychobiography Working Group used to meet once a month. (We now meet most of the time in Berkeley, where there are plenty of other interesting restaurants and cafés.) I ate the Sicilian pasta salad several times before I finally asked what was in it. I didn’t get an exact recipe, so I’ve guessed at the proportions. The Düsseldorf Café may not be there if you try to find it; for unexplained reasons, the owners frequently change its name (to such things as Frankie’s Bohemian Café or the No-Name Café). And the menu often changes too; I haven't been able to find the Sicilian Pasta Salad on the menu for years. So I just have to make it myself.

Alan Elms


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