Counter Action: Pasta salad with tomatoes, basil, and smoked Gouda


I’m feeling mutinous today. It’s week 2 of the quarter. On Thursdays, my first class starts at 8:30 a.m., and my last class finishes at 8:20 p.m. That’s twelve solid hours of sitting up straight, discussing management strategies, sketching crow’s-foot notation, and wearing pants that are tragically not of a yogish persuasion.

This is also my nineteenth year of being a full-time student. It’s been fun. It’s been real. I’ve loved having summers off to work. But I’m ready for a normal 8–5 schedule like everybody else. (Or whatever the norm is now. 7–5? 8–6?)

I’m also feeling whiny today. Sorry — should have warned you.

I might have to grin and bear the long days, with only comfy socks and fruit snacks for comfort. I might have to struggle through dozens of pages of dense prose every night. I don’t really have a choice about that.

But can I choose to post a tomato-heavy recipe in October? On a Thursday, in a feature called “Seasonal Sunday”? Bring on the culturally appropriated costumes: I’m going all Boston Tea Party on this salad.


In this metaphor, my schedule is the British, and seasonal awareness is the tea. Yeah, it’s labored. Stay with me.

In looking at my post calendar for the month of September, I’ve noticed that I’ve posted a lot of sweet recipes. There was this sweet-ish focaccia, then this chocolate chip–zucchini bread, and finally this berry bread with browned butter, with quite a lot of vegan pumpkin bread and gingersnap apple crisp and healthy(ish) chocolate cake touted along the way. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a problem. But it did make me think. In an effort to be more health-minded, I give you this salad.

We will gently ignore the fact that this is a pasta salad with mayonnaise and cheese. That’s irrelevant. Just focus on the tomatoes (mmm, lycopene!*) and the nasty carbs will melt away.

*Fun fact: “Lycopene” is derived from “lycopersicum”, tomatoes’ species name, which is comprised of two Latin words meaning “wolf peach”.


Pasta salad with tomatoes, basil, and smoked Gouda

(barely adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s original recipe) Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. penne
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. adobo sauce (or 1 minced chipotle pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes (or 3–4 large tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lb. smoked Gouda
  • packed 3/4 c. basil leaves


  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook penne until al dente. Rinse with cold water, drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, adobo sauce, salt, and pepper in small bowl.
  3. Halve cherry tomatoes (or cut regular tomatoes into bite-sized chunks).
  4. Cut basil into slivers and Gouda into bite-sized chunks.
  5. Toss penne, tomatoes, basil, and Gouda with dressing in large bowl. Salad is best on the day it’s made, but will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 1–2 days.

——— Photo credits: Baby by Ben_KerckX on Pixabay; “Boston Tea Party”, copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846, found on Wikimedia Commons.


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