For most people, summer food means one thing – lots of barbecue. And while I like a good hamburger every once in a while, they are not the food that I dream about during the middle of February while I am walking down the street in knee-high snow, chilled to the bone and imagining how much better life would be if it could be June year-round.

Instead, I am taken back to an appetizer that my mother used to make for us on most summer nights. She would cut small slices of Italian bread (crostini-sized), top them with fresh mozzarella slices, tomato and/or store-bought bruschetta, and basil and then decorate them with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes if we were lucky and the bread was a day old, they would go into the oven where the cheese would melt and bubble and brown, making for a truly delicious mouthful.

For me, then, no summer would be complete without a caprese dish of some kind or another and so when I saw that tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella were not only on sale this week at Whole Foods but were also locally grown and produced – I knew it was time. Although it would have been nice to do a traditional “mom-style” dish of little appetizer sandwiches, I am in carb-loading mode and so making a pasta dish was much more imperative. This recipe comes from Giada DeLaurentis and uses fresh tomatoes to make a heavenly sauce that is dotted with pillows of mozzarella and flecks of basil. I think you should know that if I could, I would eat this every day for the rest of my life. It was that good. It also fueled me really well for the 16 miles I ran yesterday, as well as made for some really good drunken midnight fridge raiding done by my friend Andrew who dug in with a fork straight from the tupperware. The only thing that could lure him away was a carrot cupcake. But that’s another post for another day.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Katie of One Little Corner of the World.

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 4, adapted from Giada De Laurentis

1 lb whole wheat pasta
2 very large tomatoes (about 2 lb), cut into small pieces
8 oz fresh mozzarella (I used ciliegine balls that I then cut into sixths)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup basil, torn
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Start the water for the pasta. When it boils, cook the pasta and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook until they break down into a sauce-like consistency. You should probably mash some with a fork.

3. Mix the pasta with the tomato sauce. Toss in the mozzarella and basil. Pour in the reserved pasta water 1/4 cup at a time until pasta is not dry.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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21 Responses to Caprese Pasta Salad

  1. “…not the food that I dream about during the middle of February while I am walking down the street in knee-high snow, chilled to the bone and imagining how much better life would be if it could be June year-round.”

    This I completely understand! I’m in Minneapolis. Amen Joanne, amen.

    I have all of these lovely ingredients in the house and will be making this for lunch. YUMMY.

  2. Jen says:

    YUM! :)I love this combo!!

  3. Justin says:

    i made this the other day too… so perfect for summer. i add just a touch of really good balsamic vinegar.

  4. Palidor says:

    16 miles? You are absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing this dish, and the story from your childhood.

  5. Elra says:

    Delicious sounding pasta Joanne. Perfect summer dish!

  6. Denise says:

    Love this as a pasta, its one of my faves.

  7. Kristin says:

    Since I am lazy, I am not carb loading and would make the dish the “traditional” way- because that is what I dream of during the winter also. Nothing better in the summer than fresh tomato & basil with some mozorella cheese- making my mouth water with the though of it. YUM! Thanks for your very nice commnents about my stairs & coupon adventures. I’m so glad you’ve started coupon clipping- you’ll have to let me know how it goes.

  8. I love that you thought outside of the box and combined one of my favorites with pasta!

  9. girlichef says:

    You’re so right…caprese is the ultimate summer food…in any form!!! These looks delicious 😀

  10. Natashya says:

    Yum, the flavours of summer.
    Great idea to make them into a pasta!

  11. Debinhawaii says:

    Caprese salads are among my favorites–love it with the pasta!

  12. Talita says:

    Mouth watering! Delicious dish!

  13. Reeni? says:

    Delicious fuel for running! The only thing that could make a traditional caprese salad would be pasta. Love this!

  14. ttfn300 says:

    looks delish! i just had something similar, using some spinach garlic fettucine… yum 🙂

  15. Kim says:

    I’m always in carb-craving/loving mood….but I’m not training for anything!! I need help! Great idea for a pasta salad and I love the local and fresh mozzarella. Pillows of mozzarella….you’re really selling me on this one!! Maybe I need to see about joining the Presto Pasta Nights….hmmmmm…

  16. Ruth Daniels says:

    A perfect summery dish. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

    And Kim, yes, please join in the PPN fun.

  17. Looks great! Pastas are really versatile, right? Have a great weekend!


  18. €llY says:

    Hi, I love your blog and your recipes. I’m a 22-year old italian girl who loves cooking. Your pasta salad looks very tasy, I have it almost every day! 🙂

  19. Katie's blog says:

    My favorite ingredients!!! Thanks for sharing with PPN. Looks fantastic!

  20. love love love pastas…n don’t care about the carbs…i am old fashioned when it comes to the caprese YUM!

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