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Sunday, July 22, 2012

caprese pasta salad

Caprese Pasta Salad

Tomorrow is the first pot luck lunch at my new job. This terrifies me for a variety of reasons: What if they hate what I bring? What if I offend someone by not eating what they bring? What if it's an office full of casserole queens??? ...Cue cream of canned anxiety panic attack... I can't control what my coworkers bring, but I can make sure the I bring something delicious to the table.

My criteria for this particular pot luck was easy, cold, and vegetarian friendly. I came up with a Caprese Pasta Salad that was so good I made a second batch for Zach and I to enjoy during these warm Summer nights. The salad is a classic mix of pasta, fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes; what brings it all together is the amazing lemon basil vinaigrette that came to life in my blender this evening. The vinaigrette is good. Like eat with a spoon good. I want it drizzled over a grilled flank steak stat.

Caprese Pasta Salad
Caprese Pasta Salad
1 lightly packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound medium pasta shells, cooked al dente
8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
1 pint baby grape tomatoes

  1. Place basil leaves, sea salt, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar into a blender or food processor.
  2. While blending, slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture and continue to blend until a smooth dressing is formed.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together cooled pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes and vinaigrette until lightly coated.
  4. Chill until ready to serve to allow flavors to come together.
Caprese Pasta Salad

Some of my personal tips for pot lucks:
  • Keep it simple, not everyone is open to the latest gourmet trends. 
  • Know your logistics - Do you have ample outlets for crock pots? How much refrigerator space are you working with? 
  • Know your coworkers - Are there significant dietary requirements? You can't please everyone, but I know for a fact that we have several vegetarians in our department. 
  • Label your food - Let your coworkers know the ingredients so that they can decide if they're able to eat it. This is particularly important if you're eating lunch in 'shifts.'
  • Aluminum roasting pans with lids from your grocer make clean up a breeze. You can recycle the container and you don't have to worry about tracking down your favorite tupperware. 
  • Don't panic. And if you do, discretely pack a small 'just in case' lunch to keep at your desk in case of any cream of canned casserole emergencies.


Natalie Oswalt said...

This sounds delicious! I'm sure your co-workers wil love it.

Ellen Baker said...

This looks amazing.  I eat caprese salads all the time! 

I think you should have brought the twinkie cake that someone brought after Granny died.  They would have loved it!  Kidding! 

I think you made a great choice.  I think I'll make it tomorrow.

Kimmie said...

You'd be surprised at the amount of positive response I get from people when telling that story... like they actually want me to make it. Frightening. 

Kimmie said...

Thanks, Natalie! We sure enjoyed it. It's been too 'hot' to cook much. (I know, I know, high 80's is *nothing* to complain about. I'm loosing my Texas heat endurance.)