This is a re-do of one of my favorite tomato pasta salad recipes I published my first year of blogging. I’ve been making this caprese pasta salad on repeat ever since the clock struck summer, but it’s very likely that many of you haven’t ever even seen it, and that’s a darn shame because it’s just too good to miss.
So after looking at it so many times already this summer, I thought it could use a refresh. And so here it is once again, with a spit shine, some new photos, and a video to show you easy it will be for you to make it too.
I’m a huge fan of summer’s fresh tomatoes, especially when my garden starts producing my beloved cherry tomatoes I pop straight into my mouth like candy. So back in August of 2011 when I spied this recipe on the Martha Stewart Living cover peeking over the others on the grocery store rack, there wasn’t a question whether the issue would be coming home with me.
And that’s why this salad has been in my summer recipe-making-repertoire ever since.
How to Make this Garlic-Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
One reason I love this salad so much is that it tastes delicious when served warm (the way Martha suggests), or at room temp (which makes it perfect for taking to a potluck party), or even snacking on it as I stand at the open fridge, with the door swung wide open and the chilled fridge air cooling me down in this summer heat as I eat it straight from the storage container.
Thinly slicing the garlic maximizes their flavor when cooked in the oil. I first gently smash the cloves of garlic with the flat side of a chef’s knife to release their perfumey oil (this knife is my favorite) then I slice them thinly on my indispensable hand-held mandoline.
Then, the slices of fresh garlic are gently poached until golden in olive oil. Don’t be alarmed at the amount of olive oil this recipe calls for because it’s used to marinate the tomatoes and also serves as the dressing. Same goes for the 1 cup of basil leaves. You’ll be surprised at how much flavor they both impart to the salad.
The addition of fresh squeezed lemon juice and capers balances the acid and oil of the salad and gives it just the right pucker and freshness to compliment each and every garlic-spiked bite.
I used long strand bucatini pasta for this recipe. If you’re unfamiliar with bucatini, it’s similar to spaghetti with a hole in the middle, but it’s thicker and sturdier for a more solid bite. But honestly, this recipe could be made with any pasta you prefer or have on hand.
Cook the pasta just until al dente. Cooking the pasta any longer will make the pasta mushy as it sits and absorbs the garlic infused oil.
I used bocconcini balls of mozzarella because I like that they are the same size as the cherry tomatoes. I cut mine in half so they go further. Pearl size mozzarella balls or even slices of a mozzarella log would certainly work just as fine too.