We celebrated my granddaughter’s first birthday today, and as usual, we had a rather large cookout. Hamburgers and hotdogs and Lidia’s empanadas showcased the cookout along with macaroni and cheese, sliced fruit, caprese pasta salad, and cupcakes (wine, too). We’re remodeling our kitchen, so I made the pasta on the grill, and the caprese in a chair on the back porch.
April is a fairly hot month in Central Florida, so we make food that isn’t mayonnaise based. Extra virgin olive oil is a good substitute for mayonnaise. It’s more heat tolerant than mayonnaise, and it makes good salad dressings.
Use a small pasta—ditalini or shells—so that the small pieces of tomato, garlic, and basil become trapped in the small pasta. The cheese is a nice touch, and the kids love it, but the dish works well without it.
- 6 large ripe tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 10 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Bella Gioiosio Fresh Pearl mozzarella, separated
- Salt & pepper
- 1 pound ditalini or small shells
- 5 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Cut tomatoes in quarters, then core and remove seeds. Chop tomatoes in small pieces, and add to bowl with garlic, vinegar, basil leaves, olive oil, salt, pepper, and mozzarella. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for several hours.
- Bring water and 1 tablespoon salt to a full boil. Add ditalini, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes, or until the ditalini is al dente. Drain well, and cool completely. When the pasta is cool, add caprese and toss three or four times. Adjust salt as needed. For a creamier dressing, increase extra virgin olive oil by a quarter cup.