Easy Caprese Salad Inspired Pasta Meals

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I was looking for a chicken recipe that I wrote years ago and instead found this recipe (they’re really a series of instructions) that I wrote in August 2005 for some friends who wanted to exchange recipes. Seeing the recipe brought back some nostalgia because I grew up in San Francisco where Chinatown is right next to North Beach, the Italian neighborhood, a place where Chinese food and Italian food were side by side and equally delicious. I actually lived in North Beach, San Francisco’s beautiful and delicious Italian neighborhood, as a young child and every day we walked past the Italian deli, markets, bakeries, and restaurants, and perhaps once a week, my mom bought fresh pannetone from the Italian pastry shops (yum!).

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Caprese salad with bread brings back memories of spending time with some special and dear friends who invited us over for dinner and while they prepared a 10 course feast, we would talk and enjoy caprese garlic bread while our toddler aged children played together. Those were precious carefree times (thanks D&G!). I made caprese salad and variations at home and shared with friends who came over for meals. I noticed that I wrote these pasta “recipes” 6 months before our family discovered we were dealing with food allergies and way before we figured out one of my boys had a tomato allergy. So in honor of Throwback Thursday (I started on a Thursday night!) and in hopes that my son will outgrow tomatoes and other allergies some day, here is my first non-Asian food recipe, just for fun.

Caprese salad & easy pasta variations

Caprese salad is a tomato, basil, & fresh mozzarella salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil that can be served wIth a slices of garlic bread.

Pasta variation 1:
Chop up a couple of tomatoes or halve a pint of cherry or pear tomatoes, and drizzle 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil over the tomatoes (use a glass bowl) and season with salt and pepper. Tear up a bunch of basil and reserve a few sprigs for garnish. In the meantime, boil a pound of pasta, drain and toss with tomatoes & basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pasta variation 2:
Is even easier. Chop up tomatoes, shred basil (reserve a little for garnish). Dice a few ounce of brie (I don’t like eating the rind, so I usually cut that off and discard) and set aside. Boil and drain pasta. **Do not rinse pasta** Immediately toss tomatoes, basil, pasta and brie together. The brie will melt in the hot pasta and give the pasta a dreamy creamy flavor. If this is going to be a main dish, I add some rotisserie chicken or chicken sausage, sliced and sauteed, to give the dish a little protein. I personally like Trader Joe’s Chicken Sausages with Garlic and Herbs and Aidell’s Mango Chicken.

Tomato Allergy Adaptation:

Since my son is allergic to tomatoes, I cook and drain pasta (reserve 1/2 cup of the boiling hot starchy pasta water) and toss with some chopped brie. Add some of the hot pasta water to help the brie and pasta come together into a creamy pasta dish, add some rotisserie chicken or other lean protein, and serve with vegetables on the side. We have this for dinner at home but it is a great summer time side dish for a BBQ or potluck. It’s also super easy for camping and cooking in a hotel with a kitchenette for an allergy safe meal away from home.

 

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About Sharon Wong 213 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.

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