Bert Greene's "Store"* Ziti Salad with Tomatoes and Peppers
I am not a fan of pasta salads. I find them usually anemic, in other words, bland and slathered with mayonnaise, or worse, in a too tart oil and vinegar dressing. Not so, Bert Greene’s “Store” ziti salad. “Store” because Bert made it by the vatful for the “beautiful people” who picked it up at The Store at Amagansett for their beach parties in the Hamptons in the 70s. The late Bert Greene and his partner Denis Vaughn operated "The Store" preparing upscale summer food to hordes of Hamptonites. This fresh and colorful salad was his biggest hit.
I wasn’t one of those customers but I did have the good fortune to study with Bert who was a wonderful personality and a great teacher. His philosophy was to use the best ingredients and prepare them simply to their best advantage.
1 lb. box ziti
¼ cup milk
1 medium red onion
6 sweet midget gherkins
1 red sweet pepper`
1 yellow sweet pepper
1 large shallot
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
2 packets G. Washington brown bouillon powder
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
Dash of balsamic vinegar
1 T pickle juice
Handful of chopped fresh dill
Cook a 1-lb. box of ziti according to package directions. (For this recipe, add 2 T olive oil to water to keep ziti from sticking together.) Be careful not to overcook. Drain. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Drain again. Place the cooked ziti in a mixing bowl and add enough milk to thoroughly moisten the ziti and toss.
Chop the onion, tomatoes, pickles and peppers into ½ inch cubes. Reserve a tablespoon of each for garnish. Mince the shallot.
Beat the sour cream and mayonnaise together with a whisk until creamy. Add the bouillon powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. (Thin with milk if necessary.) Pour over the ziti. Add the shallots, tomatoes, pickles, peppers, vinegar and pickle juice. Mix well.
Scoop salad into a serving bowl, garnish with reserved vegetables and cut fresh dill over all. Serve chilled. Serves 8 – 10.
*Bert Greene’s top seller at The Store at Amagansett in the 1970s and appearing in The Store Cookbook.
Photographer Bill Brady