A while ago, I was shopping in Plaza las Américas with my friend Annie Mariel. We decided to grab something light to eat at a restaurant there called La Patisserie. She had her usual salmon fillet over lentils and I decided to have a pasta salad with tomatoes, pesto and fresh mozzarella. That’s what the menu said – FRESH MOZZARELLA.
When I received my pasta salad… it was nothing like I had expected. The pasta was overcooked, the mozzarella was certainly not fresh, the pesto tasted from a bottle and the cheese was added when the pasta was hot, so the pieces had melted into a strange goo. Yuck… I was not a happy camper.
When I started making strange faces about my dissatisfaction with my entrée, Annie Mariel said: “I am sure you can make a 200% better version of that pasta salad. Go for it.”
So this is it… my better version of a Caprese Pasta Salad… let me know if you like it too.
CAPRESE PASTA SALAD
½ pound of whole grain pasta – brown rice or whole wheat spirals, macaroni or penne will all do 1 cup of tomatoes, diced ¼ cup of sun dried or oven roasted tomatoes, diced or sliced About 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus more to dress the salad Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste 1 clove of garlic, smashed once 3-4 large fresh basil leaves 3-4 thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- In a large bowl marinate the tomatoes – add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well all the ingredients together and let the fresh tomatoes break down and the dried ones plump up with the juices released from the fresh ones. Let it sit for about 30 minutes mixing it well a few times throughout.
- In a medium pot filled with boiling salted water, cook the pasta about 3 minutes shy of what the package directions say. You want them a bit undercooked from al dente…
- Drain the pasta, rinse a bit with filtered cold water and add to the marinated tomatoes. Mix it all well carefully so you don’t break the pasta. Make sure you remove the garlic clove before mixing the pasta… nobody will like to bite into a raw piece of garlic. The pasta will absorb the juices of the tomatoes while it cools off. Add more olive oil if you feel the pasta is too dry.
- After the pasta has cooled off, add the mozzarella cubes and mix well again. You can serve room temperature or place it in the cooler before serving.