Pasta salad? Bon appetit! But please do it yourself

Barbecue season is in full swing! On my last visit to Berlin, I saw them drifting in puffs of smoke through the capital’s parks. The smell of bratwurst, neck steak and sometimes even grilled lamb was everywhere. After all, grilling is anarchy, because of course what tastes good is grilled. Good preparation is objective, but taste is something very subjective.

And then the happy faces of people who just peacefully gather and use the summer season to celebrate together a fun barbecue party in the fresh air. Whether with charcoal in the park or on a tiny electric grill on the balcony, everyone is happy to grill, because for many it is a ritual of the warmest and most beautiful season of the year.

We have already written about how you manage to capture different camps from each other and reconcile them with grilled vegetables. We have already shown you recipes for barbecue marinades and healthy salads. In addition to the aforementioned grilled vegetables, salads in particular expand the range and, in addition to the raw sausages, fundamentally contribute to the culinary experience. Salad – you will almost always find it when there is a kebab somewhere – has a very dubious reputation.

Especially abroad, we Germans are laughed at for this. The French consider it (like white wine with ice cubes) simply barbaric and vulgar, the Italians are horrified, because the main ingredient is the national dish. N/A? Do you already know what it is about? Now you should know! Truly noble for us Germans is not a meat salad, and not a potato salad either. Certainly not cable salad.


Cold pasta with cream or mayonnaise? The Italian is not just turning over in his grave. During his lifetime, he considered us Germans to be barbarians.

Italians consider pasta salad a great sin!

This is a pasta salad. In Italy, I’ve been asked several times if it’s true that we actually cook pasta and then serve it cold with mayo, gray and overcooked peas, and canned carrots. And also as a side dish for grilled pork neck. This is impossible for an Italian Catholic and is tantamount to blasphemy.

As soon as such a conversation opened up, I felt cornered. The Frenchman present shook his head in disbelief, the Italian women looked at me reproachfully, and the Englishman present smiled joyfully at my despair. Probably also because at the time it was unheard of that the majority of the people of Great Britain eat worse than a pig fed on leftovers in the yard.

The criticism of my Romanesque friends struck me like lightning; All my efforts to make German cuisine look good in international comparison suddenly disappeared. And this is despite the fact that Berlin, in particular, is now slowly becoming a world culinary metropolis. But none of this helped: pasta salad is strictly prohibited.

How do I get out of this? I had just become a foodie, a friend of Slow Food and Italian cuisine, when I was kicked out with ice. So how to explain it? Only one thing helps: hold on! Enthusiastically letting people know what they are missing. Why not? Did I say the pasta salad was great! Granted, the discount noodles, cheap mayo and mold option is pretty rough, but that can be fixed.

There are more than 350 types of pasta – room for experimentation

There are more than 350 different types of pasta alone. Not all are suitable for pasta salad. Not quite tortellini or spaghetti. If you have a recipe, I will be happy to convince you otherwise. Write me!

For me, farfalle, fusilli or penne belong in pasta salad. However, given the wide range, you can easily settle on other varieties. Maccaroni, risoni, trofi, fregola sard or even gnocchi are suitable. The latter are also quite German and everyone likes them potato. Other possible ingredients are as varied as the pasta options. If couscous, bulgur and quinoa are suitable as salads, why not pasta? At least from a culinary point of view – we prefer to leave the nutrition assessment to the professionals. In the end, it’s all about fun.

Ago, andiamomay he live high, macaroni salad! Here are three recipes. It’s not much, I know, but take it as inspiration. If you know of recipes that are just as good or even tastier, drop me a line:


Worst case scenario: No one wants to eat those gray frozen peas and that fusilli.

Pasta salad with Fregola Sarda, fennel, cucumber, onion, dill and red pepper

Ingredients for 4 people): 250 g of Fregola Sarda or Orzo pasta, 1 fennel, 1 bunch of dill, ½ bunch of mint, 1 small red onion, ½ cucumber, 1 teaspoon of red pepper, salt, olive oil, juice and zest of one lemon

Preparation: We cook fregola sard in salted water. Of course, this time the water is as salty as in San Teodoro Lagoon. The rest of the preparation is ongoing. Take your time and focus on work. Imagine the happy face of Nelson Mueller, looking proudly at your meniscus. So, we start with a lemon, which we grate and squeeze.

We mix both with about 100 milliliters of olive oil and some salt, this is our marinade (not quite ready yet, you’ll see). Then we crush the red pepper berries – it works well with the bottom of the pan – and add them as well. Finely chop dill greens together with dill and mint.

Cut the head of dill and red onion into thin slices. Cucumber is cleaned of skin and core. We saute the kernels with our marinade, so it becomes especially fresh (you see!). Cut the rest of the cucumber into small wedges or cubes. When the pasta is ready, let it cool a little, then mix everything. Only at the end, when everything has completely cooled down, add chopped greens. Do not forget: try and taste!

Pasta salad with gnocchi, peas, spinach, melted onions and raisins

Ingredients for 4 people): 250 g of gnocchi, 2 medium-sized white onions, 2 tablespoons of raisins, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, peas, fresh spinach leaves, 4-5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper, cayenne powder

Preparation: Here, too, we cook everything well. The highlight is that we prepare the salad in a pan and then eat it warm or cold. We start with onions, which we cut into small strips and then caramelize in a pan with a little oil until golden (this takes a while). When the onion is ready, set it aside.

Then we fry pine nuts, cut sugar snap peas, prepare raisins and spices. We cook the gnocchi, and then put them in a pan so that they are slightly fried. When the gnocchi are slightly browned, we add the rest of the ingredients, deglaze with balsamic vinegar and remove the pan from the stove. If everything is warm, we season with salt, pepper and cayenne (maybe more balsamic vinegar and olive oil?). It tastes incredibly fresh and at the same time reminds me a little of Sicily.

Felix Hanika

Felix Hanica: Passionate chef and Mallorcan by choice, for whom a pound of butter is everything.

Macaroni salad with chicken, kebab, cinnamon, chickpeas and vegetables

Ingredients for 4 people): 200 g of rigatou, 150 g of barbecue meat (or finely chopped chicken or a vegan version), 100 g of chickpeas (boiled from a can), ½ zucchini, ½ eggplant, 3-4 cauliflower florets, 1 red hot pepper, salt, cinnamon, Hanu rasp, 1 lime (peel and juice), parsley and mint, olive oil, 100 g of yogurt, ½ clove of garlic.

Preparation: You can buy meat for barbecue directly in the barbecue. In addition, they cut the chicken or veal very thinly and fry it with lots of garlic, ras el hanout and cinnamon. One of the many vegan alternatives is also possible, also for yogurt. When the meat is ready, put it aside and prepare the rest.

In parallel with cooking, cook noodles and prepare vegetables. Everything is cut into small cubes and fried in a pan with a lot of olive oil. When everything is ready, we add spices, that is, salt, ras-el-khanut and cinnamon. Squeeze or finely chop the garlic cloves and mix with yogurt (salt to taste). Then chop the herbs and grate and squeeze the lime.


Those were the days: in 2003, a doner kebab in Munich cost 3 euros. For our kebab noodle salad, you will need the best kebab meat…

When the noodles are ready, put them in a bowl, add chickpeas with liquid, then meat and vegetables. Now everything is seasoned with spices, lime juice and zest, herbs and lots of olive oil. If desired, you can add d’Espelette pigment or cayenne pepper. Give everything a good soak and taste again before serving. Place yogurt in a small bowl next to it.

For some foodies, all this may seem a bit “gross”. But this Italian-Germanic-Levantine dish is like a mirror of our merged cultures. And it’s guaranteed to be delicious, even if it doesn’t sound like it!

Do you have questions about our recipes? Ideas and wishes for stories or a restaurant tip for us? Then write to us Chef Jesko zu Dohna on Instagram or by e-mail:

Felix Hanika first as an investment banker before completing his apprenticeship as a chef at the Bareiss Hotel and Restaurant in the Black Forest. For eight years, he cooked in the best restaurants in the world. He regularly publishes his favorite recipes in the original issue of the Berliner Zeitung.

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