Light and Easy Caprese Pasta Salad

Light and Easy Caprese Pasta Salad
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The dog days of summer have arrived, we don’t have air conditioning in our 1950’s cape cod. Which means I am turing on the oven sparingly and pulling out those recipes that don’t require slaving over a hot stovetop. Luckily there are easy fresh recipes like the one I am sharing with you today: Caprese Pasta Salad.

Traditional caprese salad is a quintessential summer staple, composed of juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil all drizzled with balsamic dressing. It’s a flavor combination that really can’t be beat and since I’m growing my own kitchen herb garden this year (you can read about it here) I had plenty of basil on hand. It might be important to note here that there are many different variety of basils out there, the kind I am growing this year is a purple basil. Thus in the picture above you see the purple leaves, most likely the fresh basil you find at your grocer will be a traditional green leaf. 

To create a dish that was a tad more substantial than the traditional salad I opted to add pasta and thus created Caprese Pasta Salad. I chose radiatore as my pasta because not only is it a fun swirly shape, but the ridges make a great vessel to hold onto the balsamic dressing with being vinegar based it a tad on the running side. While the pasta was cooking I cut up several medium sized tomatoes and the fresh mozzarella into about one inch sized pieces.

Use fresh ingredients in this caprese pasta salad.

It’s important for this recipe that you use actual fresh mozzarella rather than the shredded stuff in a bag.  I typically find this in the deli section of my grocery store. After chopping the tomatoes and mozzarella I harvest some basil from the pots in the backyard.  Friends this may be silly but there seriously is something so satisfying about growing your own food.  Even just taking a few minutes to trim leaves of my basil plants had me daydreaming about homestead life and how great it was to know where my food had came from, and what it had been treated with. Unfortunately it’s still a little early here in Michigan for tomatoes, so the ones on my plants in the kitchen garden are still green.  But I will definitely make this caprese pasta salad throughout the summer, so I will get to use my own tomatoes eventually.

Anyway back to the caprese pasta salad; after the pasta has cooked, and the other components are chopped, it’s time to make your dressing.  The balsamic dressing is a super simple combination of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic salt.  The recipe makes plenty so you should add about half to start and then see if you want more.  Just a heads up the dressing will give everything a slightly brown hue, not the end of the world, but can make the white mozzarella look a little strange.

You guys this recipe is so easy, and really can be made super fast, bring it to your next potluck (I brought mine to church last week) or eat it all yourself, but either way you won’t be sorry you tried it out.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fresh mozzella
  • 1 cup uncooked radiatore pasta
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup baslamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes you can sub cherry or grape tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water to cool pasta. 

  2. Cut mozzarella cheese into approximately one inch sized pieces. Dice tomatoes into small chunks. Finely chop the fresh basil.

  3. Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic salt in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. 

  4. Add all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl. Pour about half the of balsamic dressing over the mixture. Mix until well coated, add more dressing to taste if needed. Chill before serving. 



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