Although I grew up in a pretty small town, I’ve been a city-dweller for the last…seven!?!?…years now. And there are lots of awesome things about the city — public transportation, walkable neighborhoods, great restaurants, cultural opportunities — but there are lots of things about the city that just…well…kindof suck.
I know I’ve complained ad nauseum about having to walk to the grocery store, but there are other things, too. You can’t really see any stars, for one. You pay a truly outrageous amount of money for the privilege of living in an 800-square foot apartment. And things never really get 100% quiet. Or 100% dark, either. Light and noise are inescapable.
Another (somewhat unexpected) thing I hate about the city? The Fourth of July. What has always been one of my favorite holidays just doesn’t work in the city. “Cookouts” in air-conditioned apartment buildings — while fun — just don’t feel right. Fourth of July doesn’t make sense to me without some grass, some lawnchairs, some coolers, and some baked beans eaten on paper plates with plastic silverware. Am I right?
If you’re lucky enough to be attending a windykitchen-approved Fourth of July cookout — one in a yard, with lawnchairs and paper plates — then I’ve got a great suggestion for something you can bring. This pasta salad is light, refreshing, tasty, and perfect for a cookout.
CAPRESE BRUSCHETTA PASTA SALAD (windykitchen original)
1/2 lb small pasta (elbows, mini shells, farfellini, orzo, etc.)
3 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or more to taste (I added an extra tbsp or two because I like things very balsamic-y)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped in chiffonade (about 30 leaves, or 3/4 oz.)
pinches salt and pepper
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1. In large bowl, combine tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and basil. Season with salt and pepper and let sit while you prepare remaining ingredients.
2. Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. While pasta cooks, chop mozzarella into small pieces (you want the pasta, mozzarella pieces, and tomato pieces to all be about the same size).
3. Add cooked pasta and mozzarella cheese to bowl with tomato mixture; stir well. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve (preferably overnight).
I was very happy with how this turned out! It had all the flavors of yummy bruschetta, and it only got better the longer it sat in the fridge. If you want, you can use white balsamic vinegar, which will prevent the pasta from getting that brown color.
And just for the record, we had this as part of a picnic dinner at an outdoor concert venue. I think it tastes extra-good when eaten while sitting under a tree : )