This Caprese pasta salad recipe is easy, delicious and perfect for summertime! Just cook cherry tomatoes with olive oil to make the perfect pasta sauce. Recipe yields 4 modest servings.
6 ounces (2 cups) whole grain fusilli or rotini pasta
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces mozzarella “pearls”, or one mozzarella ball, torn into bite-sized pieces
Several sprigs of fresh basil (enough for 2+ tablespoons chopped)
2 to 3 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the olive oil, tomatoes and salt in a large, non-reactive skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cover the skillet (use a baking sheet if you don’t have a better lid). Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have started to burst out of their skins and the olive oil has a light red hue (about 6 to 12 minutes).
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes while you chop the basil. We don’t want the cheese to melt on contact, so wait to proceed to the next step until your pasta is lightly warm (not hot).
Stir the mozzarella balls and basil into the pasta. Add the vinegar, then taste and add additional vinegar and/or salt, if it doesn’t quite taste spectacular yet. For best flavor, let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes, so the pasta can absorb some of the sauce. Or, refrigerate it for future use.
This salad will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Leftovers are great chilled or at room temperature. You can also reheat the pasta if you don’t mind the mozzarella melting (yum).
Make it gluten free: Use your favorite gluten-free noodles.
Make it vegan: This recipe would still be nice without the mozzarella. If you would like to add some creaminess, add a dollop of my vegan sour cream to individual servings before serving (see my cookbook, page 217). Recommended equipment: An enameled cast iron Dutch oven is the perfect cooking pot for the cherry tomatoes (it’s also great for cooking pasta and soups/stews, and it will last forever).
▸ Nutrition Information
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