Before we start, I have big news! Tune in this Sunday, July 14th at 12pm EST. I’ll be appearing on QVC’s In the Kitchen with David, promoting Breakfast for Dinner! (Nervous? me? gulp). I don’t know precisely what time I’ll be on yet, but the show runs from 12 to 3pm. If you follow me on twitter I will be share as soon as I know more specifically what time I’ll be on.
Pasta salad is under-appreciated. Rarely does it get the attention it deserves. It’s always the ‘eh’ on the side of a juicy burger, the afterthought placed on the side of your plate because you don’t have any other choice.
I mean really, can you honestly remember having any truly amazing, memorable pasta salads in your lifetime?
I think I’ve had maybe one, from a (now-closed) deli where I grew up, and even then it’s more Taylor’s memory of that pasta salad that I’ve latched on to, as I can’t even recall what was in it. Some memory, huh?
I’m dead set on changing that, and this caprese-inspired pasta salad is a sure start. It’s got a tangy white-balsamic and basil dressing, and dotted with bright cherry tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and salty capers to top it all off.
Pasta salad has a tendency to be very bland, and if you’ve ever tried to make it using a typical salad dressing you may have discovered that. So while straight out the food processor this dressing may seem overly pungent with white balsamic vinegar and shallot, once it’s intermixed with the pasta the balance is just right.
And a note about white balsamic vinegar – sure, you could use regular balsamic, but the color is going to be rather muddy. The white balsamic doesn’t have quite the same rich notes as your regular balsamic does, but it’s got its own unique character and will keep the dressing bright and vibrant green.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 pound fusilli pasta
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces small mozzarella balls (ciliegine or bocconcini), halved
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Blanche basil leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds or until they turn bright green. Transfer to an ice water bath with a slotted spoon to stop the cooking, then drain, squeezing out any excess liquid.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
- In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine blanched basil leaves, olive oil, vinegar, shallot, salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and pulse until uniform and very finely chopped. Pour dressing over pasta and stir until until evenly coated. Add mozzarella, tomatoes, and capers and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Salad will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days, although the basil will start to discolor slightly after the first day.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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I know what i’m eating tonight:)
Making this right now, but adding a little bit of prosciutto.
I just made this and WOW! Great recipe! Thanks for sharing.
This looks so fresh and flavorful :) I love caprese salads!
I feel like this pasta salad will get all the attention it deserves! So much goodness in bowl. I love the green pesto and delicious bites of mozzarella!
I could eat this all day every day.
Caprese salad is my absolute favourite – I can’t believe I’ve never heard of making it with pasta before! I will be trying this very soon. Thank you!
In total agreement about the underrated pasta salad. This one looks delicious. I may roast my tomatoes before adding them though, or do you think they need to be uncooked?
Sure, you could definitely try them roasted, although I prefer them raw in this particular recipe. Not to mention not having to turn on my oven in the heat of the summer, that’s always a plus. :)
So cool about the TV feature! And I am all about anything caprese. I’m loving the use of the white balsamic in this dressing :)
Congrats on the TV feature! And this pasta – YES! I’m up for anything “caprese”!
You did great on T.V.! This salad looks so yummy :)
Congrats on QVC!! I have it on my DVR :)
I live and breathe caprese and this is amazing!
looks so yummy! congrats on qvc!
I like basil
very tasty, especially with pasta
wish you happy cooking
White balsamic and basil dressing you say? Count me in! I love the bright, crisp flavor of white balsamic; I mean, I’m not going to be dipping bread into it or anything, but it’s definitely worth adding into your pantry to add to sauces and dressings!
Congrats on the TV gig..I’ll set my DVR! Your caprese pasta salad looks ah-mazing…this is a must.
Heh, to be honest, pasta salad has been my absolute summer staple for years! It’s easy, it’s quick, it includes lots of veggies plus pasta for comfort. And you can do them Italian style like yours above, or TexMex (with beans, corn, cucumber and pico de gallo), Swiss (with cheese, cornichons and radish)… My current fav is Vietnamese style with rice noodles, chicken, carrots, iceberg lettuce, mint&cilantro and a fish sauce vinaigrette. :D
You can’t beat a caprese salad, except maybe by adding pasta ;) this looks amazing!
I love this salad!!!
Yay!! Congrats! Also, this salad looks fabulous! We often make pasta salad a s a main meal, so no convincing needed here. We know its awesomeness!! :)
This looks sensational, Lindsay! I love caprese dishes this time of year. Nothin’ better. Wishing you lots of luck on QVC!!
Congratulations! How exciting!
That pasta salad looks delicious. I actually love pasta salad; my mom would make it just for dinner in the summer; olives, chicken, tomatoes and broccoli with an herb vinaigrette. To this day one of my favorite hot weather meals :-)
Congratulations! I will have to tune in to see you! :)
That caprese pasta salad look absolutely delicious!
NO WAY! I am totally tuning in to see you!
You’re going to get super-famous and get your own cooking show, aren’t you? That will be acceptable only if you promise to keep designing my blogs. LOL.
This looks yum, btw. :)
Phsaw, no way jose. I prefer being *behind* the camera, thank you! :)
I love caprese and have a hard time finding pasta salads I like because I am a very picky eater. This looks wonderful!
YUM! Anything caprese= summer! Thanks for sharing!
Congrats on QVC Lindsay!! Very exciting and I’m sure you’ll do flawlessly!
As for this salad, I’m loving it – simple yet sophisticated. If you threw some pignoli nuts into the mix, I wouldn’t mind that either ;)
Lovely Caprese Pasta Salad, Lindsay! I love that you went with white balsamic vinegar and added shallots. Very pretty!
So pretty! I love caprese pasta!!
What a great recipe! It’s just perfect for a Summer lunch by the pool!!!
Have a lovely weekend!
We usually watch in the Kitchen with David so will be on the outlook for you. Best of luck.