Salad with Olives, Tomatoes, Capers, and Bell Peppers on Pasta

by DerdriuMarriner

As appetizer, complete meal, or snack, salads may include more than fruit or veggies. Featured recipe serves bell peppers, capers, Kalamata olives and tomatoes on angel hair pasta.

Olives are delectable to look at and delicious to eat. Whatever the color or the preparation, they can be counted on as crowd pleasers. One reason is the versatility with which they carry out their culinary role in an exciting range of edible ways:
* Desirable garnish;
* Exotic Turkish cake;
* Fresh appetizer or snack;
* Healthy oil;
* Hot soup;
* Mixed or vegetable casserole;
* Scrumptious salad.


Kalamata (Καλαμάτα, Kalamáta) olives are among the most popular of olives. Its name is thought to mean “beautiful eyes”: καλά, kala, “beautiful” + μάτια, matia, “eyes.” Etymologists, historians and researchers suggest that the phrase may memorialize Our Lady Mary (September 8, 1st century B.C.E. – August 15, 1st century C.E.) of the beautiful, brave, compassionate, wise eyes.

The phrase also may honor the survival of an icon of her. It was located in a church which experienced a particularly destructive fire. Despite the overall devastation, the icon was unharmed other than with minimal burning.

The phrase became the name of an historic city in the southern Peloponnese (Πελοπόννησος, Pelopónnisos) of Greece. The Peloponnese is an anciently developed area of southern Greece which is to the south of the Gulf of Corinth (Κορινθιακός Kόλπος, Korinthiakόs Kόlpos). It numbers among its cities those of ancient Greek history and mythology such as Argos (Ἄργος, Árgos), Corinth (Κόρινθος, Kórinthos) and Sparta (Σπάρτη, Spartē).


Kalamata olives at Gargarou Retreat, 3.7 miles (6 km) north of Koroni and 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Kalamata
Kalamata olives at Gargarou Retreat, 3.7 miles (6 km) north of Koroni and 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Kalamata


The name of the olive, the icon and the city overlap because of geography. Specifically, the Kalamata olive is cultivated in the fields outside of the city of the same name. The cultivation therefore takes place in the Messenia (Μεσσηνία, Messinia) region of the Peloponnese. It also takes place in Laconia (Λακωνία), Messenia’s neighbor to the west.

The love for the olive accompanied Greek settlers of the Italian peninsula and islands.


Hidden among pines above Kalamata, ruins of castle, built in 1208 by Geoffrey I of Villehardouin (c. 1169–c. 1229), French knight of 4th Crusade (1202-1204), 2nd Prince of Achaea (Peloponnese)(1209/1210–c. 1229); also site of Homeric city of Pharai.
Kalamata's hill, the Peloponnese's westernmost point, overlooks city and Messenian Gulf of Ionian Sea.
Kalamata's hill, the Peloponnese's westernmost point, overlooks city and Messenian Gulf of Ionian Sea.

Ingredients: for salad dressing


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients: for salad


1/2 pound angel hair pasta

  • Note: Sometimes I substitute other pastas such as fusilli, rotini, or tagliatelle.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

  • Note: 2 parsley sprigs = 1 tablespoon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced

  • Note: I set aside the core and seeds for addition to puréed stews.

1 bell pepper (green, red, orange or yellow), chopped

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized cubes

  • Note: Buffalo mozzarella is a superb choice for this salad.

1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

6 fresh basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces

  • Note: Sometimes I substitute arugula for basil., I also like to include argula flowers, which are wonderfully edible.

2 Tablespoons drained capers


basil (Ocimum basilicum) in garden: aroma of fresh leaves
Corley, North Warwickshire, west central England
Corley, North Warwickshire, west cent...


For salad dressing:

In a bowl, whisk olive oil and garlic together.


For salad:

1.  While water is boiling, break strands of angel hair pasta in half. Place pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.

2.  While pasta is cooking, prepare remaining salad ingredients.

  • In a bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar and black pepper together.
  • While whisking, gradually add olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, combine parsley, tomatoes, bell pepper, mozzarella, Kalamata olives, red onion, basil, and capers.
  • Add balsamic vinegar mixture to salad ingredients.

3.  When pasta has finished cooking, drain into a colander and allow to sit briefly, for a few minutes, to cool slightly.

  • Note: I use a colander-pot set to reserve the pasta water, which is added to stews or is saved for watering house or garden plants, which thrive.

4.  Add pasta to salad ingredients and toss lightly.

  • Then gently drizzle salad dressing over salad ingredients. Toss lightly.


Capers, peppers, and plum tomatoes with pasta
Capers, peppers, and plum tomatoes with pasta



My special thanks to

  • talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Teresa Giudice for generously sharing culinary treasures and family anecdotes in her beautiful cookbook, Skinny Italian.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


My recipe is a variation of a classic recipe, "Panzanella Salad," presented by Teresa Giudice on pages 214-215 of her excellent Italian cook book, Skinny Italian.


Herbs such as arugula or basil, with tomatoes, naturally complement pasta, especially tagliatelle or angel hair.
Herbs such as arugula or basil, with tomatoes, naturally complement pasta, especially tagliatelle or angel hair.

Sources Consulted


Accademia Italiana della Cucina (The Italian Academy of Cuisine). La cucina: the regional cooking of Italy. Translated by Jay Hyams. New York : Rizzoli, 2009.

Castelvetro, Giacomo. The Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy (1614). Translated and introduced by Gillian Riley. Devon, England: Prospect Books, 2012.

Giudice, Teresa, with Heather Maclean. Skinny Italian. New York: Hyperion, 2010.

Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


Insalata Caprese, with its basic ingredients of basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, and salt, provides scrumptious basis for salad creativity.
Caprese salad (Insalata Caprese), reinforced with olives
Caprese salad (Insalata Caprese), reinforced with olives
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It - Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

Italian recipes by Teresa Giudice with Heather Maclean
Italian cookbooks

illustration from Pates Baroni Vintage Poster - Europe: black t-shirt

image from 1921 pasta ad by Leonetto Cappiello (April 9, 1875 – February 2, 1942)
Pates Baroni Vintage Poster - Europe
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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 06/22/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/12/2014

Mira, "Kalamata" is a word with such a beautiful flow to its pronunciation.
I'm guessing that some of the nutrients in the pasta transfer into the water via osmosis. It's a tradition I follow of never wasting water, especially in cooking. So if there is no other immediate use, I share the water with indoor and outdoor plants. They show appreciation with great vitality, so I keep up the tradition.

Mira on 05/12/2014

I didn't know there was a place called Kalamata -- and what a wonderful etymology, too!
I'm curious about you using pasta water to water plants. What is it in it that helps these plants in any way?:)

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