Orecchiette Caprese Pasta Salad -- A union of traditional Capese salad ingredients and toothsome Orecchiette pasta. The key to this recipe is using a high quality balsamic vinegar*.
In early June, the folks at Zyliss sent me their "smart touch" salad spinner to review. I've had salad spinners in the past, and they've all been satisfactory in the beginning. But after about a month, the baskets have cracked, the spinning mechanism would falter, and ultimately, the spinner would be destined for the landfill. So, to ensure that this review wasn't a mere first-impression, I invested a month of spinning my favorite greens: baby kale, butter lettuce, fresh basil, and baby romaine. From the start, the Zyliss "Smart Touch" struck me as sturdier than any other spinner I'd previously used. Over the month of daily use, the spinner held up beautifully. It was easy to use and easy to clean. It did a great job of drying my salad greens, and was a particular help when I needed to wash, then dry a volume of basil to make fresh pesto. Once I was confident in its durability, I was eager to test its versatility with other edibles. That's how I struck upon the idea of using the spinner to help seed my tomatoes.
For my Caprese pasta salad, I halved a pound of grape tomatoes and threw them in the Zyliss spinner. I kept it spinning for about a minute, which was easy with the "smart touch" pump. After I applied the brake, I opened the cover and revealed...
...about a 1/4 cup of seeds and extra juice! This definitely helped keep the pasta salad from being too wet and watered down. I try to avoid kitchen tools that only perform a single function, so it was nice to discover that the spinner could be used for more than just salad.
Well, enough chatter; Let's get cooking!
Orecchiette Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound grape tomatoes, halved, drained and seeded
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon quality balsamic vinegar*
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 large fresh basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
- 2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 ounces Grana Padano Parmesan cheese, shaved
Step 1: Cook pasta according to manufacturers' instructions. Orecchiette has a tendency to stick so, I added extra oil to the boiling water and stirred constantly. Drain pasta, toss with 1 TB olive oil, and set aside to cool.
Step 2: While pasta is cooling, slice the tomatoes. Place in a medium bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. Set aside to allow time for the salt to leech out some of the water from the tomatoes.
Step 3: Prepare the dressing by whisking the garlic, olive oil, teaspoon of kosher salt and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Stir in fresh basil and parsley.
Step 4: Drain the tomatoes. When pasta has reached room temperature, add to the bowl with the dressing. Add tomatoes, and cheeses and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This pasta salad is excellent right away, but is even better the next day. Serve with an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar and top with more grated Parmesan and parsley.
Bottom line on the Zyliss "Smart Touch" Salad Spinner -- If you eat a lot of salad and cook with fresh herbs and vegetables, I recommend this sturdy, easy to operate and clean model.
*My favorite balsamic vinegar is the Olivier Balsamic - VSOP (up to 25 year) from Napa Valley. We like it just as much as the Villa Manadori Balsamic, which is twice the price. Olivier sells for about $28 and is worth every penny.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I received a free salad spinner from Zyliss for the purpose of doing an unbiased review and have not been compensated in any way. All opinions are genuine and are my own.