Come, lets celebrate summer with this salad which comes from the Motherland of the world-famous and renowned Italian cuisine : Italy. this splendid Caprese Pasta Salad is loaded with fresh summer vegetables, herbs and flavours. It is absolutely spot on, and I have to admit it, this is the most delicious thing I have ever cooked/made in the past 3 years behind the kitchen counter. This salad is rich, juicy, moist, yet the veggies retain their crisp and fresh texture. The pasta is cooked to the “al dente” texture, which means “to the bite.” The pasta adds a distinct texture, the vegetable juices make up a delicious coating, the creamy cheese just melts in your mouth and the almond pesto… forget it, it makes this salad outrageously delicious and to die for . Don’t worry, it will all sum up in a matter of 25-30 minutes and the end result is absolutely stunning, mouth-watering and healthy at the same time.
So let me walk you through the recipe.
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cooking time- 10-12 minutes(depending on pasta used)
- Total time : Maximum 30 minutes.
- Pasta: Use Penne, Fusilli, Conchiglie if you can, as they hold on to the pesto/sauces very well and do not let anything drip away.
- For the pesto:
- extra virgin olive oil
- bunch of basil leaves
- 10 soaked almonds
- grated parmesan cheese(you can substitute with other non processed salty cheeses if you wish to experiment)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- salt, pepper and lemon juice
- Vegetables: use fresh summer vegetables of your choice. I have used, red onion, bell peppers and cherry tomato. You can add or subtract and add the veggies of your choice : sweet corn, jalapeños, broccoli, steamed carrot, beans, peas.. the choices are endless hence it’s totally your call. Avoid using bitter vegetables as they do not taste great.
- Cheese: you can use cream cheese, mozzarella, goats cheese, cow/buffalo milk cheese, tender paneer, etc.. Add the one that suits your taste and preference.
- To season: salt, pepper, lime juice (you can substitute this with red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar if you like)
- Start by making the Almond Pesto. Originally made with pine nuts, this recipe however calls for a twist and thus I have used soaked almonds. You can substitute this with roasted walnuts as well.
- To make the pesto, wash a bunch of fresh basil leaves and pat dry using a paper towel ( use more basil if the salad quantity is more). Then add the basil to a food processor or a mixer and then add the soaked almonds, salt, pepper, grated cheese, lemon juice and the garlic cloves. Then churn on high until the leaves have been chopped and the other ingredients are grainy and form a semi – paste consistency. Then start adding the olive oil gradually. Start with a little bit and keep adding until a nice thick pesto is ready. Transfer to a bowl and check for seasoning.
- Now, boil the pasta using the package instructions on the back and cook until al dente in texture.
- While the pasta gets cooked, Dice the vegetables and keep them ready. Add olives if you wish to. Make sure that the vegetables aren’t chopped finely, they are meant to be diced in bite sized pieces.
- Once the pasta gets cooked, reserve some of the cooking water and DO NOT RUN THE PASTA UNDER COLD WATER. There is also no need to coat it with olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Now, toss everything together. Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl, then add the vegetables, almond pesto, diced cheese(keep the pieces big, and do not grate it. Avoid adding cheese slices). Then season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and then mix well. You can keep this pasta salad in the fridge for up to 4-5 days so make big batches if you like.
Make this fun-filled and quick recipe and do not forget to let me know how it turns out to be by commenting on the recipe! If you enjoyed my recipe, share it and hit the thumbs up (like) button and do not forget to follow my blog!
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