Tag Archives: Pasta

Caprese Pasta Salad

Labor Day weekend has come and gone.  Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer here in the USA, and sure enough, our weather is a little cooler today with a temperature of 54°F.

I usually would have grilled steaks or burgers for a Labor Day dinner.  But since there was no family gathering due to the pandemic, I made this Caprese Pasta Salad for a simple and easy dinner.

This Caprese Pasta Salad combines the flavors of a classic Caprese salad with the addition of pasta.  The Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil seasoned with salt and olive oil.

This salad is a nice change from all of the pasta salads that have mayonnaise in the dressing.  It has plenty of freshness in it with the  fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and a delicious balsamic vinegar dressing.  It is also quick and easy to make.

I was gifted a bottle of olive oil (Tuscan Herb Oil flavor) from The Olive Mill in Saugatuck, Mi.  The Tuscan Herb Oil flavor is a wonderful mix of  olive oil, oregano, garlic. and basil.  I used some of that olive oil in the vinaigrette dressing for one of the salads I made.

The dressing can be easily doubled if you prefer more dressing for the pasta.

Caprese Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1- 12 ounce box tri-color Rotini pasta

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned black pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder

1 pint (about 1 cup) multicolored cherry tomatoes), halved
1 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (drained if packed in water)

1/8 cup chopped fresh basil

Cook Rotini pasta according to the package directions.  Drain pasta in a collander and rinse with cold water.  Transfer to a large serving bowl.  Set aside while making the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to combine.

Add the  cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese pearls, and basil to the Rotini.  Pour the dressing over pasta and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.  Store leftovers in a covered container in refrigerator.  

Notes:
1.  You can substitute the mozzarella cheese pearls  with bocconcini or fresh mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes.
2.  I used white balsamic vinegar instead of the regular dark balsamic vinegar.  Here is an interesting article from Old Town Olive about the difference between white and dark balsamic vinegar.

Below are some early morning visitors that came by this morning as I was working on this blog post: a mama deer and her two young ones.  Be safe everyone.

Penne With Vodka Sauce

We have been waiting impatiently for spring here in Western Michigan.  According to one of our local meteorologists, we received more snow in April than we did in December.  A lifelong resident told me that it has been known to snow as late in the year as Mother’s Day.  Hopefully, that will not be the case this year. In the years I have been living here, we have had the occasional early Spring.  Just two years ago, a pretty tree was blooming outside my home office window.

Blooming Tree

If you are looking for something to warm up any remaining cold days, this hearty Penne with Vodka Sauce is just the right recipe.

Penne with Vodka Sauce (Penne alla Vodka) has been around since the 1970s, however, the origins of it are unclear.  There are at least three claims as to its invention.  Cookbook author,  Pasquale Bruno, Jr., claims the recipe was invented at Dante a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.  Another possible inventor of the recipe is James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University in New York City.  My favorite claim is that Luigi Franzese prepared the first version of this recipe at the New York City restaurant Orsini when he used a nearby glass of Russian vodka to thin a tomato sauce.  Thanks to Wikipedia as source material.

Whoever invented the recipe, I’m just glad they did.  It is one of my favorites, and also really easy to prepare.  Typically, this pasta dish contains penne, crushed tomatoes, onions, heavy cream and vodka.  I love serving the sauce over other types of pasta, such as ravioli.

Ravioli

Penne with Vodka Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 basil leaves chopped
1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces dried penne pasta, cooked and drained

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions till translucent.  Remove from the heat and add the crushed tomatoes and vodka.  Return to the heat and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the grated cheese and stir until melted and combined.  Add the salt, pepper, basil and the cream to the tomato mixture.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Serve over the penne and garnish with basil and parmesan cheese.  

IMG_0450

Notes:
Makes for a great meatless Monday dinner.

 

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