An easy strawberry caprese pasta salad that makes a perfect side or a main course! This pasta salad is tossed with a light homemade balsamic glaze and is perfect for spring or summer picnics! Serve it my itself or add in leftover diced chicken!
Excuse me while I go nibble on some leftover caprese pasta. It may take me a few seconds to devour this light, refreshing, yet guilt-free and creamy salad. I may get a little lost in all the avocados, and fresh sliced strawberries and may be too busy to continue writing this because i’ll be spending my time swooning over the little bits of mozzarella covered in balsamic glaze.
Let’s be real. Sometimes you just need a little bit of comfort food for Mondays to not be so terrible. And pasta is the king of comfort food everywhere. Is it not? My personal favorite pasta is one that comes in salad form with toppings galore, like ?????? teeny tiny mozzarella balls, diced avocados, fresh baby spinach, and strawberries all drizzled with homemade balsamic glaze that costs exponentially less than that store-bought stuff. Seriously, this glaze is just 3 simple ingredients.
Let me put it this way, if you can boil pasta, you can make today’s caprese pasta salad.
Though just about anything would taste delicious on a caprese pasta salad, I swapped the traditional tomatoes for strawberries, added a handful or two of some mighty protein packed spinach, and diced a large avocado for a little more nutrition. Then just some snips of basil, pasta, and that balsamic glaze. I love a traditional caprese pasta salad but sometimes you just want a traditional something with a little bit of a new twist. And this totally delivered. It’s just a handful of super flavorful ingredients that come together and make this fresco style pasta salad so light and freshing — which is completely the opposite of how you feel after you’ve consumed a vat full of potato salad drowning in a thick mayo dressing! Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff but it’s not something I would enjoy all the time.
Let’s talk about the balsamic glaze. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s just 3 simple ingredients. One of which is that balsamic vinegar. And the other two? A hint of sugar and a pinch of salt. That’s it! Simple as it get’s, right? How many times have you dropped big $$$ to buy store bought balsamic glaze? It’s 3x the price of the balsamic vinegar and it costs around $1 to make it at home! The sweet, acidic taste of balsamic pairs beautifully with the strawberries and basil in this salad. And i’m willing to bet that you’ve got most of those, if not all, the ingredients at home already.
The idea of a strawberry caprese pasta salad popped into my head one afternoon when I needed a quick lunch that was both filling but light and super springy! But let’s face it, when am I not thinking about pasta and veggies to devour it with? I love enjoying fresh ingredients in pasta salad during the spring time. And this salad fulfills. It’s filling from the spinach, avocados, pasta, and strawberries, but still refreshing. Not to mention that it’s perfect when you need to clear out the fridge! Got a little feta left over, pop it in, it’ll be delicious. In fact, almost everything drizzle with homemade balsamic glaze is quite irresistible.
During the summertime, I’m planning lots of early suppers with this caprese pasta salad and some quick grilled chicken.
But don’t wait till then. Grab the ingredients and let’s turn this Monday around.
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or brown sugar, honey, etc)
- pinch of salt
- 10 ounces pasta (such as penne, farfelle, etc)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (see note)
- 8 ounces strawberry halves
- 2 cups packed baby spinach
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 1 bunch basil leaves, torn
- BALSAMIC GLAZE: Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat, allow the balsamic vinegar mixture to come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer and reduce by half for 15-20 minutes. If it starts reducing too fast, drop the heat to medium-low. The glaze will thicken quite a bit when it cools so allow for it to cool while you boil the pasta.
- PASTA: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and allow the pasta to cook as directed on the box, drain well.
- PASTA SALAD: Combine the pasta, mozzarella, strawberries, baby spinach, avocados and basil in a large bowl, drizzle with desired amount of balsamic glaze, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mozzarella: I used cherry sized mozzarella balls that I found in the deli section. You can use whatever size you prefer, or just purchase the larger logs/balls and dice them!
*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional facts provided is for 1/6th of the recipe including ⅔rd’s of the prepared balsamic glaze.
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