In lieu of our standard Minnesota spring-like weather, we have been graciously blessed with temperatures much more like summer. (Although this week is quite a bit chillier!) It has been SO nice to sit on the deck with Todd and enjoy some sunshine, a cocktail, and great conversations while the smoke from the grill saturates the air.
Of course, like any other NORMAL person, the first things I really craved with the weather changes were burgers, brats, and pasta salad. I am not sure why us Minnesotans like pasta salad with burgers, but we do. That's how we roll.
This delicious recipe combines bow-tie pasta, pesto, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Caprese in any form is a favorite of mine, so needless to say, I loved, loved, loved this pasta salad!
Todd, did too. I think!? I am actually not sure he got any, to be honest.
Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves: Eight (8)
1 Lb. Box of Bow-Tie Pasta
1 container (or 2 cups fresh) cherry tomatoes; halved or quartered
8 oz. fresh mozzarella pearls (See note)
1-2 (2.5 oz.) cans of sliced black olives (optional)
For the Pesto Sauce:
2 Cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
Salt and Pepper to taste
Boil pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a food processor, add basil, Parmesan, nuts and salt and pepper. Process for 15 seconds. With the food processor on, slowly add in olive oil and process for about 2 minutes or until smooth.
Toss pasta, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil pesto until well incorporated. Finish with an additional dash of salt and pepper and serve immediately.
* Note: If you can't find mozzarella pearls, which significantly reduces your time cutting mozzarella into smaller pieces, try to find the ciliegine mozzarella. This is not a specific brand, but rather the smaller, round, cherry tomato sized mozzarella that will work perfectly when cut in half or quartered.
Source: A modified version of multiple recipes that I have tried and made over the years to finally come up with this final version.