For Fourth of July weekend, I went camping with my parents down on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I always try to split the food duties with my mom, so I brought down hot dogs and hamburgers for our 4th of July BBQ, as well as some pasta salad and succotash to have on the side.
I got the idea for this pasta salad because of my deep love of the combination of mozarella, basil and tomatoes (see my margherita pizza and bruschetta recipes). I absoluetly love when summertime comes and fresh, local tomatoes are in abundance. I used to have some success growing my own tomatoes on my apartment balcony, but last year I moved and my new balcony doesn’t get enough sunlight. My new apartment is terrible for growing plants, in fact – it’s where plants go to die.
I thought a Caprese Pasta Salad would be quick and delicious, and it would travel and sit outside well since the dressing is oil and vinegar. Perfect! And the recipe really couldn’t be any easier!
Caprese Pasta Salad
– 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1, 8-10 oz container mozarella balls (you can halve them if they are large, mine were super petite so I left them whole)
– 1/4 cup shredded mozarella (optional)
– A large handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
– 1-2 cloves garlic, pasted
– 10 ounces pasta, cooked and cooled (I used rotini, but any short-cut pasta would work)
– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
– up to 1 cup olive oil
– Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the pasta and set it in a colander to cool. Halve the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Chop the basil and add to the bowl.
Add the mozarella balls, halving them if necessary. I would usually cut them in half, but this time the mozarella balls were super tiny so I left them whole.
I also added in about a 1/4 cup of shredded mozarella because I was worried there wasn’t enough cheese. Is there such thing as enough cheese? 🙂 At this point, I also added the garlic, salt, and pepper and stirred to combine.
Add the cooled pasta, and dress with the balsamic vinegar and oil. Stir thoroughly. We ate this pasta salad for lunch several days in a row on the camping trip and it was a big hit! I’ll definitely be making it again.