This is one of my favorite pasta salads – it combines two of my favorite dishes: caprese salad and pasta. What’s not good about that? I have served this at several concert in the park picnics, and have taken it to many barbeques gatherings. As you can imagine, this is a super easy pasta salad to assemble, and, if you use store-bought pesto, it’s even easier. You can buy mozzarella that comes in small balls, or you can use fresh mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes – I slice them in half so that they absorb more of the dressing. In addition to using pesto, fresh basil is a key ingredient in this salad. As with all salads, and particularly pasta salad, adjust the ingredients and seasonings (dressing, herbs etc.) to your liking.
- 1 Lb. Shaped Pasta (Rotini, Ziti, Cavatapa, or whatever you like or have on hand)
- 1.5-2 Cups Mozzarella balls – cut in half (or mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 1.5-2 Cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
- 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chopped
- 1/4 -1/3 Cup Pesto
- 6-8 TBS. Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (use white balsamic if available)
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese- shredded
- Salt -to taste (it will take a generous amount)
- Pepper- to taste
Cook pasta according to directions, but only until al dente. Run pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, add pesto to pasta and mix until pasta is coated to your liking. Mix in tomatoes, mozzarella,Parmesan and basil (adjust amounts as desired). Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.