I have a secret to fill you in on… Something I’ve been dying to share for a while now (if you follow me on Instagram, then you may already know)…
My husband and I are expecting our first child! Come October, we’ll be new parents! It’s thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. We keep saying to each other in awe “We’re having a BABY….woah.” It’s awesome.
It’s been a very exciting past few days. We’re finally into our second trimester (13 weeks as of yesterday!) and able to share the news with family and friends. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement and support. I feel very loved…and grateful. My first trimester was such a breeze. Barely any nausea at all! Just fatigue and tons of bloat. Fun stuff. I’ll take that over being sick all the time, though!
To celebrate, I made you my “famous” pasta salad. This pasta salad is one of my most requested dishes. Friends and family alike request this when they know there is a gathering or party to be had. I’ve had several people tell me that it is their absolute favorite pasta salad. To show my gratitude and love for those celebrating this new chapter in our lives, I’m sharing the recipe.
This pasta salad is incredibly easy to toss together. It hardly takes any time at all, but everyone is always impressed with how it tastes. The key to making this is to have good ingredients on hand. Because it’s such a simple salad, you really want the ingredients to shine through. Juicy, sweet cherry tomatoes. Crisp bell pepper. Soft mozzarella. Peppery basil. And a decent balsamic vinegar.
The last key thing is to make this as far in advance as possible. Like most pasta salads, it tastes better and better with time. I usually make it several hours ahead of time, keep it in the fridge, and give it a toss when I think about it. The simple flavors gain depth with time.
Make this if you’re in the mood for something comforting but bright. Think caprese salad tossed with garlicky-vinegary pasta. Total yum-fest.
I associate this pasta with parties and friends and celebrations….which makes it all that much more fun to share with you now. Make a bowl for your loved ones today…whether you’re celebrating something or not. I promise, people will love this one.
Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad (makes 6 servings)
1 lb penne pasta
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 container cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar (optional – depends on how sweet your tomatoes and vinegar are. Taste as you go)
1 lb fresh mozzarella balls
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ cup (or more) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Heat large pot of salted water to boil; add pasta and cook to “el dente” doneness, according to box directions. Drain and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
3. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sugar (if using) in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Add diced pepper, tomatoes, and sautéed garlic/shallots. Toss to combine. Add the pasta to the bowl and toss everything together (it’s best to do this while the pasta is still warm. It will absorb the flavors better).
4. Add the mozzarella and basil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Finish with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese and toss again.
5. Toss everything together and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours before serving (the longer it sits, the better it gets).