Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cooking with Kitten: Caprese Pasta Salad

Hello Kittens--

For the barbecue I'm attending today, I'm making one of my signature dishes--caprese pasta salad. It's a recipe I got from Rachael Ray and it is oh so tasty. I've gotten many compliments for this dish since I started making it. It is a super-easy recipe.

Here are the ingredients:
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • one or two tubs of store-bought pesto (or you can make your own; I make my own)
  • one or two pints of grape tomatoes
  • one pound of medium sized pasta shells
  • two tubs of bocconcini balls (little balls of fresh mozzarella found in the specialty cheese case of most grocery stores)
  • one bunch of fresh basil


  • Zest your lemon into the bottom of a large glass bowl. After you've zested it, cut it in half and juice it. Squeeze the juice into the bottom of the bowl. Household hint: save the lemon halves and put them down your garbage disposal when you're done; they really do a great job of deodorizing it.
  • Put the pesto at the bottom of the bowl and mix it with the lemon juice and zest.
  • Meanwhile, put the pasta water on to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, salt your water. The salt will help flavor the pasta.
  • Dump the shells into the water and cook until the pasta's al dente. You don't want your shells to be too mushy.
  • When the pasta's ready, drain it into a colander and IMMEDIATELY pour COLD water over it. This will stop the cooking process. You want the pasta to be cold before you dump it into the bowl so that it'll prevent either cooking or melting of the other ingredients.
  • Drain the pasta VERY well, so that you don't add any water to the bowl. I let the pasta drain and cool in the colander for another five minutes after I've poured the cold water on it.
  • Once the pasta is cooled, dump it in the bowl and mix it with the pesto and lemon juice.
  • After you've mixed the pasta with the pesto and lemon juice, add the tomatoes and mix well.
  • Drain the bocconcini and add them to the salad. Slice each one in half if you wish to distribute the mozzarella more evenly throughout the salad. Mix thoroughly.
  • Slice the fresh basil into thin strips, or use kitchen shears to cut it. (I use kitchen shears). Mix the basil into the salad.
  • Serve immediately, or put plastic wrap over it and let it chill in the fridge.


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