Whole Grain Pasta Caprese Salad

My best friend Erin sent this recipe to me after she saw it on the Curvy Carrot blog. It looked so delicious that we decided to make it when she came to visit me in Arizona. We agreed that using whole grain pasta would be the healthier route to take, so we found some whole grain penne. The original recipe calls for regular rigatoni, but this dish is so flavorful I think I could have made it with cardboard noodles and it would still have been delicious!

Earlier that day we had lunch at the Queen Creek Olive Mill (a Phoenix area MUST for all of you foodie’s) and we picked up a fresh loaf of their rosemary bread (which cancelled out the healthier whole grain pasta) and a bottle of their own olive oil.

What a feast! I didn’t modify the actual recipe at all, except for using whole grain pasta. However, when Erin made the recipe for her in-laws the next week, she added some grilled shrimp and it was a hit!

Ingredients

5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper (if you don’t normally cook with this, go to CVS Pharmacy and get a bottle for 99 cents!)

1 pound whole grain penne pasta

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced or cubed as desired

Approximately 15-20 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

Instructions

To peel and seed tomatoes, cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and place the tomatoes in the water for about 15 seconds.  Immediately remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place into an ice water bath.  This will stop the tomatoes from cooking.  Now the skins should be easy to remove and the tomatoes can be easily de-seeded and diced.

Place the peeled and diced tomatoes in a colander for about 15 minutes to remove excess juices.

In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.  Mix the ingredients well and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the tomato mixture, mozzarella, and basil.  Toss gently, and serve immediately.

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