Prepare to repeat this vibrant pasta salad this summer. It has all the elements of Italian Caprese salad-juicy tomatoes, sweet basil and creamy fresh mozzarella cheese-plus chewy pasta and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Even better, because it uses cherry tomatoes (which taste great all year round), you don't have to wait until the tomato season to make it.
Colorful pasta salads that can be flexibly matched with what you have
This pasta salad aims to become more relaxing and relaxing. It requires any dry short pasta, which means you can take something from the pantry instead of adding it to your shopping list. Orecchiette is my personal favorite-the pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls (called perlini mozzarella) fall into the cup perfectly. However, even if you use a larger bite-sized mozzarella cheese ball and different pasta, you will still get a winning result.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 pound dried short pasta, such as orecchiette, fusilli, or medium shells
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (about 20 ounces or 4 cups total)
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (perlini) or mini cherry-size balls (ciliegine)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, mince 2 garlic cloves and place in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and whisk to combine and emulsify.
- Add 1 pound dry short pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package directions. Meanwhile, halve 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (or quarter if large) and add it to the bowl of dressing.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and run briefly under cool water to lightly cool the pasta down. Drain well again. Add to the bowl of dressing and toss thoroughly to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to meld and the pasta to cool to room temperature. Tear 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves into bite-size pieces. Drain 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese pearls or mini cherry-size balls. If using mini balls, halve them.
- Add the mozzarella and basil to the pasta salad and gently fold to combine. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or vinegar as needed.
Make ahead: The pasta salad can be made up to 1 day ahead without the basil and refrigerated overnight. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before tasting and seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar as needed. Toss in the basil just before serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days.