A Caprese Pasta Salad with a tangy roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette. This family favorite is filled with fresh mozzarella, sweet cherry tomatoes and lots of basil!
Happy Memorial Day!! I absolutely love this holiday because it is the start of all things summer. I just slipped into my bikini and jean shorts this morning and smiled knowing that I will be at the beach in an hour, enjoying watching Stella splashing in the waves. She sweetly drags Nick down to the water, only to shy away from the loud crashes of the waves, covering her face in protest. She nuzzles her sweet little head into his chest and pretends to be shy. I think she knows she has him wrapped around her finger.
She just started talking to him on the phone while he is at work. As soon as the phone is in my hand, she reaches her chubby little fingers up to hold it, then proceeds to babble on with Daddy, making every sound her little voice can manage. To anyone else it is a bunch of meaningless noise, but to Nick those are the best 10 minutes out of his day. I can say with absolute certainty that I never felt more love than I did when Stella came into the world. She makes every day just a little sweeter for us both.
Which brings me to today. Another first holiday for Stella and more memories to be made. You can bet that I will be sneaking her bites of ice cream while daddy isn’t looking, letting her stir whatever I am whipping up (despite the big mess it will make) and enjoying every possible snuggle I can. Life is short and I believe we need to treasure every moment with our loved ones. Today I am especially grateful that we live in such an amazing country where people sacrifice their lives to give us the sweetest taste of freedom. My heart is broken that there are men and women who won’t be clasping onto the chubby fingers of their little ones, that for them there will be no family BBQ, nor enjoying the laughter of the ones they love most. Because these men and women are giving their lives so that I can have this day with my little one and handsome husband, protecting this beautiful freedom. Truth be told, freedom isn’t free. It is these precious sacrifices that make our country so remarkable and I am truly proud to be an American. If you are reading this and are in the Military or have a spouse or family member who serves, I just want to thank you. And a million thank yous to all the men and women who have gone before you and laid down their lives so we could have better ones.
Okay. How do we transition to pasta salad?
Later on today we are going to a family BBQ and I have all sorts of fun treats packed up. When you are a food blogger, the expectations go way up! Everyone requested my 7-layer dip, one of my big ol’ ice cream cakes and a pasta salad. I love bringing the pasta salads to events because I get to control if mayonnaise makes it into the bowl. Can someone please tell me why everyone insists on packing salads with MAYO?! I always get so sad because I am a true a carb lover and avoiding pasta is NEVER on my agenda. (Sorry, I am not yelling at you. I just feel passionate in my dislike of all things mayonnaise).
So back to pasta salad. This salad is a combination of my favorite Italian Caprese appetizer merged with a pasta salad. The dressing is roasted garlic white balsamic and on several occasions I have been tempted to eat it by the bowl full with a spoon. My favorite part about this dressing? You guessed it, its mayo free! I use a good quality buffalo mozzarella in this pasta salad and it makes all the difference. This Caprese Pasta Salad also makes a great main dish for vegetarians.
Whatever pasta salad you are eating today, mayo or no mayo ;-), I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Memorial day!
- Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1 Head of Garlic
- 3 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Honey
- 2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
- ⅓ Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Hot Sauce, optional
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. Farfalle Pasta (Or other small pasta)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Fresh Mozzarella, cubed
- 1 Cup Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
- 1 Large Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
- ¼ Cup Green Onion, chopped
- ½ Cup Basil, chopped
- Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette: Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the top of the garlic head to expose the cloves. Drizzle the exposed cloves with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Wrap the entire head in foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and the cloves have softened. Press on the skin of the garlic to release to cloves. You should have 8-10 roasted garlic cloves when finished. In a food processor or blender, puree the garlic cloves, white balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, worcestershire sauce, and olive oil (hot sauce too if using). Blend for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the farfalle pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Shake well to drain. Pour pasta into a large bowl.
- Add in the mozzarella, tomatoes, bell pepper, green onion, and basil to the bowl of pasta. Toss with dressing. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving for best flavor.