The past few weeks have been really heavy, for a lot of us. I don’t know if there seems to be more heartache in our world right now, or if we’ve all just slowed down enough to finally see and feel it all. But either way, I know this time is hard for a lot of us. And while I recognize that sharing a Caprese pasta salad recipe today isn’t necessarily “fixing” anything that’s going on in our world, sometimes when I don’t know what to do, I cook.
Food has always been a source of comfort and calm for me. When I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I cook. Lately, it’s been a lot of bread (if you’ve been following along with me in my Instagram stories you’ve probably witnessed my sourdough obsession), plates of pasta, and food from childhood. Comfort food. Things that make me feel good. After all, food is supposed to make us happy.
The past few months I’ve been making a lot of dishes from my childhood; tuna noodle casserole with ritz crackers on top (minus the tuna for me ;), chocolate chip cookies, pizza bread, and every pasta dish under the sun, including a twist on an old pasta salad I remember my mom making every summer.
Growing up as a child, I remember in the summers my mom would always make a huge Tupperware container filled with fusilli pasta smothered in Kraft Zesty Italian dressing, cubed cheddar cheese, and salami. Anyone else know what I’m talking about? It went just about everywhere we did. I can remember the Tupperware my mom always used too. It was a huge oversized green bowl.
While this pasta salad doesn’t have any Zesty Italian dressing or the curly fusilli shaped noodles, it’s just as yummy. Instead, I used tiny ditalini pasta, which is one of my personal favorites. And instead of the “cubed” cheddar cheese, I opted for big scoops of fresh ricotta that gets mixed right in to create a creamy velvety texture.
One of my favorite things about this Caprese pasta salad is how I cook the pasta. It’s cooked right in the sauce (very similar to how I cook my one-pot lemon pasta ). I start with a large dutch oven filled with shallots, garlic, lemon, and chicken stock, that the pasta actually cooks in. Which creates a beautiful sauce and velvety texture. The pasta gets drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh herbs. Super simple, but the flavor of the lemon and garlic and basil really shine here.
Then right on top, I add generous scoops of creamy fresh ricotta cheese, seasoned tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. It’s light, and refreshing and such an easy summer dish.