I love Insalata Caprese; a simple and classic Italian salad with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. This salad is a take on that classic with the addition of pasta, avocado, a balsamic vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts. You could make this salad year round; but to really enjoy and love it as I do? Make it seasonal when you can use amazing tomatoes, good avocados and fresh basil.
I’ve grown my own tomatoes for years but with both of my children now on their own I think my days of planting and watering a large garden of veggies is over. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a bounty of herbs. I love that so many herbs are perennials and my garden is filled with thyme, tarragon, chives, parsley, sage and mint. All that I plant each year now are basil, rosemary (a perennial in some areas) and cilantro.
Gratefully great tomatoes are easy to find at farmer’s markets this time of year and even better I was the lucky recipient of a bag full of tomatoes from my friend Jane. I have a great pot of basil right outside my back door and a gift basket I just received from Harry and David found me in possession of a beautiful, HUGE avocado (still can’t believe the size in comparison to what I had in the fridge and it was SO good!). It does seem the stars were aligned and it was evident that it was the perfect time for what I think is my favorite summer salad…it has so many things I just love all together in one place!
I recently served this pasta salad for an annual Girls Nite In that I host; when several girlfriends that I have known for years come together in my backyard for some good food, great wine and yes, really lively conversation! How did I know it was a hit? It disappeared faster than the dessert!
A Caprese salad with even more...add avocado, pine nuts and some bowtie pasta...a perfect side dish.
- 1 lb pasta bows (yes, you could substitute, but so pretty and just perfect for this dish!)
- 6 ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
- 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin rounds
- 2 medium, ripe avocados, halved and sliced lengthwise
- 3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 1 sprig fresh basil for garnish
- Salt and Pepper
- 9 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
- pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together in small bowl, mix enough with pasta to thoroughly moisten; salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill serving bowl with dressed pasta and then arrange the tomato, mozzarella and avocado in overlapping slices around the edge. Sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with a sprig of basil.
- Drizzle remaining dressing over individual servings of pasta.
I must be a glutton for, not punishment, but certainly for embarrassing myself as I’ve been posting old images I took in the past for some of my dishes I’m now including on this blog. This image of my favorite pasta is telling; the year was 2007 and it was the very last shot my old Canon point and shoot camera delivered before it died. I needed that motivation to get a new camera and though I still have a LOT to learn, I hope you get a kick out of seeing the difference between the two versions!