All of your favorite caprese salad ingredients becomes heavenly when mixed with a high protein pasta. The beauty of this refined dish is that it works well as a side or entree and a great choice when you are having guests over. It is such a simple and relatively quick dish. The dressing flavor brings out the elegance of a caprese salad and the al dente texture of the pasta brings an additional crispness. The smell of the fresh picked basil is intensely aromatic – sweet yet savory. It is so inviting that you’ll probably pop a few of the leaves in your mouth as you populate the salad. Oh Dear – and the soft crunch of the apples with its graceful sweetish tart flavor will pop with pleasure in your mouth.
This is such a refreshing and colorful one dish meal. You will fall in love for sure and it will leave you wanting more.
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Penne Caprese Salad
Quick, Simple & Delicious. Great for any midweek dinner or lunch and equally as terrific for weekend gathering.
FOR THE SALAD DRESSING:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 small shallot diced
- 2 teaspoon oregano fresh, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
FOR THE SALAD:
- 4 cups penne pasta protein plus
- 8 ounces mozzerella cheese balls
- 1/2 cup fresh basil organic
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives sliced
- 12 cocktail tomatoes organic – quartered
- 1 granny smith apple cored and diced.
FOR THE SALAD DRESSING:
In a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup, add all the salad ingredients, except shallots. Whisk together thoroughly, untily lightly immulsified (slightly creamy). Add shallots. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
FOR THE PENNE CAPRESE SALAD:
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions – al dente. Drain the pasta and allow to cool slightly.
Note: I used a 5 quart dutch oven pot. Fill with water, about 8 cups – add 1 tablespoon salt. I cooked the pasta al dente, but 1 minute less than the package direction.
In a large bowl, add the pasta, tomatoes, olives, apples, mozzarella and 1/2 of the dressing. Mix to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Add the fresh basil leaves (whole leaves). Mix to combine. Serve and Enjoy.
Note: I allowed the salad to rest for up to 2 hours before serving. It can be served immediately after assembling or allow to rest up to overnight to allow for more intense flavor.
Cut the apples right before assembling the salad to prevent oxidation. (If you cut it well ahead of assembly, add some fresh lemon juice which will prevent the oxidation.
Instead of penne, small or medium pasta shells will also work well.
You can also add any kind of olives you prefer. I happen to love kalamata olives.
Cocktail tomatoes can be replaced by cherry or grape tomatoes.