Orecchiette, Celery, and Olive Salad with Ricotta Salata

Prep Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
6 to 8 Serves

A lively pasta salad where the orecchiette serve as little bowls for salty, soft cheese, crunchy celery, and briny olives. Chickpeas provide protein in each bite, making this the perfect vegetarian side dish for summer entertaining. Another bonus: it's a make-ahead wonder.


  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 cups chopped celery

  • 1 pound orecchiette

  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped (1 ½ cups)

  • ½ cup pitted and sliced Castelvetrano olives and 1 to 2 tablespoons olive brine

  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • Ricotta salata, crumbled (3/4 cup)

  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (¼ cup)

  • ½ cup chopped celery leaves


  1. Using the side of a chef's knife, mash garlic with 1 teaspoon salt into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl; whisk in lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, and oil. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

  2. Cook pasta in generously salted water according to package directions until cooked all the way through. Drain (but don't rinse, which would waterlog the noodles), then spread on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with half of vinaigrette. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss fennel, capers and brine, chickpeas, ricotta salata, and celery with remaining vinaigrette. Add pasta; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate up to a day ahead; let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving. (Cold pasta salad is too firm and less flavorful.) Toss with Parmigiano-Reggiano and celery leaves; serve.

    Orecchiette, Celery, and Olive Salad
    Ren Fuller

Cook's Notes

Be sure to boil the noodles for the longest cooking time listed on the package, since they won't continue to cook in piping-hot sauce as they would in warm dishes.

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