Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad

Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad

Every year I plant a bunch of herbs. I have a few perennials set aside in a certain area of our land, but the annuals I just do in containers. One that I always plant is basil. Is there anything like the scent of fresh basil??? it is one of those smells that just makes me think “summer”. Problem is, me being, well, me, I inevitably plant more than we can use. I love basil, but I get busy and forget to actually USE it. I’ll grab a handful for spaghetti sauce, I’ll snip a few leaves to use with a sliced up tomato and some olive oil. Then that will be it. I’ll talk a good game about using the 496 plants for a few hundred batches of pesto, but I never get to it. Then, Autumn comes, the first frost comes and I am left kicking myself because my basil died. I’m sad and then next Spring the cycle starts all over again.

So this year I only bought TWO basil plants. That’s it; two. And what does that mean? That suddenly, I find myself wanting basil all the time to the point where my poor plants can’t keep up the supply. Nature can’t win with me. But I’m afraid to buy another plant or two. Because what will happen is that craving will die and so will my basil plants.

But…!! This salad is a great way to use about 1/2 of a cup (which is a fair amount of leaves) of the lovely green stuff. Every year, one of the things I do is make a Caprese pasta. I usually make a hot dinner of it though, with spaghetti or a similar pasta and the cheese all melted in it. While that is absolutely wonderful, I wanted to try my hand at a chilled salad this time. I am totally pleased with what I came up with. This is about as easy as it gets. I used a good quality bottled Italian dressing in this. You are, of course, free to make your own dressing, but I was going for easy and tasty, not involved. With this salad, the most involved part is chopping the basil and the tomatoes. Hard work, ehh? Make sure you let this chill for a bit; at least a couple of hours. You want those flavors to blend and then blend some more. Then, just garnish it with some fresh basil for decoration and a sprinkling of pepper for flavor, check for needed salt one last time and chow down.

Chilled Caprese Pasta Salad

  • 1 16 to 19 ounce package frozen tortellini, cooked according to package direction, then drained and rinsed in cold water
  • 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella ( those are the small balls, usually found in tubs packed in water)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion (I know this isn’t a typical ingredient for caprese, but it adds a nice flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (same as what I said for the green onion)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup good Italian dressing
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (this is one of those times when the cheaper powdery stuff is acceptable, even preferred, because it coats and clings better than freshly grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pour the tortellini on a layer of paper towels and gently pat dry. Place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the mozzarella,  the tomatoes, green onion, lemon zest and basil to the bowl with the tortellini. Gently toss together.
  3. Pour in the Italian dressing and toss to coat.
  4.  Sprinkle the Parmesan on and again, toss to coat. Give it a taste, then add some salt and pepper. I’m not giving a specific amount here because tastes vary. You may be not a huge salt person, but others are, so I salt for your taste and then others can add more if they want it. Seems the best way to season something like a pasta salad.
  5. Pour the salad into a serving bowl. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Garnish with some basil and freshly ground pepper and serve.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission. Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad 2

Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate S’mores

Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate S'mores

Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate S’mores

I don’t like s’mores much. There. I said it. I have no problem with the marshmallows and the chocolate. I mean c’mon, this is me.  I love those parts. But I really don’t care for graham crackers. We were fairly poor growing up and as graham crackers were cheap, they were one of those things that my mom bought a lot as a treat. I ate them then… I was a kid… give me a shoe sole with sugar and I’d have eaten it. but even then they weren’t a favorite. Still aren’t. but you know what? When I made this S’more, the first thing I tried was the cracker that was all coated with caramel, chocolate and sea salt. And know what? It was amazing! I now have a way I will eat graham crackers lol. Of course, it takes a somewhat benign food and makes it a heart attack on a plate, but I’m cool with that 😀

If you like s’mores the old fashioned way, you’ll like these even better. If you like salted caramel and fancy schmancy chocolate this will be heaven on a plate for you. A layer of graham cracker covered in a square of good quality chocolate ( I used Lindt Caramel Sea Salt bar just to layer that sea salt caramel flavor , covered in a toasted marshmallow and sea salt caramel sauce, then coated with more chocolate, another graham cracker THEN slathered in more caramel, good chocolate sauce and more sea salt. Yep… Heaven. On. A. Plate.

Salted Caramel And Dark Chocolate S’mores

  •  1 3.5 ounce bar Lindt Caramel Sea Salt Bar (or any flavor you prefer… but use GOOD chocolate)
  • 5 graham crackers, broken in half
  • 5 large marshmallows. (I used the extra large ones from Campfire brand)
  • A half batch of my homemade caramel sauce (you’ll end up with some left over but I promise that you won’t mind. It has many uses 😀
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup good quality chocolate sauce
  1. After you make the caramel, stir the teaspoon of sea salt into. If you want to hold on to some of the sauce plain, just use what you want and cut the salt accordingly. Set aside.
  2. Set the graham cracker halves on plates (one cracker to each of five plates) and put a square of chocolate on each piece.
  3. Toast your marshmallow by whatever method you prefer. I just used the stove but go for it and be authentic and use a campfire, a grill, whatever… use a Bic lighter if it makes you happy 😛
  4. Put the marshmallow on a graham cracker half, cover with some of the caramel sauce, then put the other cracker half on top.
  5.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce, more caramel sauce then sprinkle with some sea salt.
  6. Inhale. Thank me later.

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