I have made the perfect summer BBQ side dish.
I think everyone loves Caprese salads. Am I wrong?
Ripe, juicy tomatoes with fresh, creamy mozzarella and spicy basil? Um yes!
Add in pasta (which makes everything better) and a vinaigrette that I would drink with a straw and you will be the hit of the party.
Pasta Caprese with Lemon Vinaigrette
**I took a pointer from Cook’s Illustrated and froze the mozzarella cheese prior to tossing it with the warm pasta. By freezing the cheese for about 10 minutes, it is cold enough to not turn into a gooey mess and lose its shape when combined with the hot pasta. By the time you serve it, the cheese will no longer be cold and will be at a temperature and texture that is just right!
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
juice from 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed, dried and chopped in half
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped into cubes, 1/2 inch square
1 pound small pasta (orecchiette or shells), cooked according to directions
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1. Make vinaigrette. Combine first 7 ingredients into a medium bowl. Whisk until combined. Taste and tweak to preferences. Taste again. Taste again. Then remember that you need some for the pasta. Taste again. Stop tasting.
2. Marinate tomatoes. Place cut tomatoes into bowl with vinaigrette. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Make pasta salad. Place chopped mozzarella on to a large plate in an even layer. Once pasta is added to boiling water, place mozzarella in freezer. Right before draining the pasta, remove cheese from the freezer. In a large serving bowl, combine drained warm pasta, cold cheese and marinated tomatoes and vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Stir in chopped basil and serve immediately.
This salad just screams summer. Can’t you hear it?
For printable recipe, click here.