I know that a caprese pasta salad isn’t exactly GROUNDBREAKING, but this one has gone a little gourmet. First of all it’s made with summers own peak-season, sweet and juicy heirloom cherry tomatoes, in an array of colors; yellow, orange and red. Then there’s plenty of fragrant basil and of course a caprese isn’t a caprese without fresh mozzarella. Now enter the main attraction… the Mediterranean twist — fresh marinated artichokes, Kalamata olives, capers, some “makes-everything-taste-great” parmesan and extra yum-factor, toasted pine nuts. Tossed in the most tasty sun-dried tomato dressing, this is a gem of a pasta salad that’s incredibly flavorful and super quick and easy to make.
Whether you are looking for an easy dinner or something to bring to your next picnic, potluck, or patio party, here’s a tasty number that may just steal the show. Leftovers are fantastic, possibly even better. It’s healthy, mayo-free and made with spelt pasta, which gives it an extra boost of fiber and protein. I loved it so much I even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day. Much to my colleague’s confusion — pasta for breakfast? Okay, I slept in and was running late for work. But I’d do again, anytime.
This caprese pasta salad is totally customizable, so feel free to substitute in (or out) any of your favorite antipasti ingredients. I bet grilled eggplant would be fantastic addition. Eggplant and tomato are a dream together. Or toss in a handful of shredded arugula. Or how about smoked tofu? The possibilities are endless.
I used spiral shaped pasta for this recipe since the form is really great with this type of dressing. The sun-dried tomato dressing seems to cling to all the right places. I really love this caprese pasta salad, and I’m pretty certain you’re going to fall for it too. ♥
For the salad:
500 g dried spiral-shaped pasta (preferably whole wheat or spelt)
350 g cherry tomatoes, quartered (if available use a mix of heirloom varieties)
150 g marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped*
1 ball water-packed mozzarella, drained and chopped (125 g)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (40 g)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved (60 g, about 16 olives)
1 tablespoon capers (in brine), drained
2 generous handfuls fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (25 g)
For the sun-dried tomato dressing:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes halves, drained (50 g)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
*NOTE: for recipes using artichokes, I buy herb and oil marinated fresh artichokes hearts from my local delicatessen or farmers market. Alternatively, fresh packaged marinated artichoke hearts can be found at some organic food stores (e.g. Alnatura). Look for them in the refrigerated section with other fresh antipasti. The taste is incomparable to the jarred versions with vinegar which can be quite acidic tasting (and the ones coming from a can can be quite bland).
1. Fill a large pot with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and add pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook according to packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
2. To prepare the dressing, use a handheld mixer, or immersion blender to blend together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes until well combined (the dressing will resemble a pesto). Season will salt and pepper, to taste.
3. In a large salad bowl, add the cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, mozzarella, parmesan, olives, capers and basil leaves. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.
4. Garnish with pine nuts and serve. Enjoy!