I love cheese. I love pasta. I really love pasta with cheese. I especially love pasta with cheese when I convince myself that it’s good for me because it has the word ‘salad’ in it. That’s the key here folks: adding spinach (or arugula or whatever green leaf you fancy) to make your favorite things seems healthy. This caprese pasta salad recipe is super easy and takes less than 20 minutes to make.You will need: mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, garlic, spinach, penne pasta (I used gluten free), olive oil, balsamic, and salt + pepper.
I’m living in Brasil for the summer, so it is not always possible to find all of the ingredients I need to cook. However, I had previously spotted all of these ingredients, so I knew I would be abel to make this simple salad. Something to celebrate! When I was at the store, I forgot what the Portuguese word for basil was and I spent quite a few minutes smelling all of the green herbs until I found it. The spinach here is a little different (as you may notice in the picture above), but it does the trick to add some greens into my life. Something I definitely need during this two month vacation.
To make this salad, start by boiling a pot of water. When your water is boiling, add about 2 cups of pasta and cook until al dente or soft, depending upon your preference. While the pasta is cooking, cut a pint of cherry tomatoes in half and do the same to 3/4 cup of drained mozzarella cheese balls. I tend to cut my basil into pretty little ribbons. However, the basil in Brasil is a little different, so I just tore my leaves. I did the same with my spinach. Next, chop up your garlic and add it to a large bowl with 1/3 cup of balsamic and 1/3 cup of olive oil.Stir in a little salt + pepper and throughly mix it.When your pasta is finished and cooled, add it into your bowl.Then add your tomatoes, cheese, and basil.Stir until mixed and the ingredients are coated with your dressing. Add a little more of olive oil and balsamic if needed.Finally, add about 2 cups of spinach (or arugula).Stir to combine and ensure all ingredients are coated with dressing.I like my pasta salads to be cold so I cover mine and let it chill in the fridge for a little bit before I eat it. Do this, or dive right it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t eat several bites before putting it in the fridge to chill.
You can also add chicken or avocado to this salad. Another great option is combining your olive oil, balsamic, garlic, and basil in a food processor and blend to make a pesto-type dressing. Either way is delicious and easy!
- 2 cups of penne pasta, cooked until al dente or soft then cooled
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese balls, drained and cut in half
- 1/4 cup of basil, thinly sliced
- 2 cups of spinach
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of balsamic
- salt + pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente or soft.
- While your pasta is cooking, slice your tomatoes, cheese, basil, and garlic.
- Add garlic, olive oil, balsamic, and salt + pepper to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and set it aside to cool. Then, add it to the bowl with your dressing.
- Then add sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and stir until dressing coats all ingredients. Add more olive oil/balsamic if needed.
- Add Spinach and stir.
- Cover and put in the fridge to let it chill or serve immediately and enjoy!