I'm sure many of you encountered a pasta salad at some point during the 4th of July holiday weekend. Personally, I really, really don't like pasta salads with mayo, and when I saw the mayo-free version over here, I was inspired to create my own. I had also recently made a tuna salad with fennel and olives, and thought that those flavors would work well with pasta. I added some snap peas for extra crunch and cherry tomatoes for summery juiciness, and finished it off with olive oil, lemon juice, and a lot of herbs. This is a great mayo-free pasta salad full of fresh market vegetables. We enjoyed it for dinner yesterday when the weather was too steamy to consider eating a hot meal, and the leftovers made a delicious lunch.
I was originally planning on using white beans for this salad instead of tuna to make it vegetarian, but I happened to be out of white beans - I think the bean version would be just as good as the tuna, so use whichever one you prefer.
Feel free to use whatever herbs you like here. I used basil, lemon basil, oregano, and parsley, but many other herbs would work just as well.
1/2 lb pasta (I used medium shells, but any small to medium sized shape should be fine)
1/2 of a large fennel bulb, thinly sliced with pieces cut into 1-inch lengths
20 cherry tomatoes, sliced
15 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
10 sugar snap peas, sliced crosswise
1 (5 oz.) can tuna or 1 (15.5 oz.) can white beans, such as cannellini
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more if needed
2 large handfuls of herbs, chopped (some suggestions are basil, oregano, lemon basil, mint, parsley, and dill)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook until pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and run under cold water until pasta is no longer warm. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice to taste. Add pasta water if the salad needs moisture.