I love just about any type of pasta salad. And I also love Caprese salads. So when I saw this recipe, I just knew I had to try it! And it didn't disappoint, of course! In fact, my husband even raved about this recipe, which wasn't totally shocking, but I was a little surprised he liked it that much. When dinner was over, I added some balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, and crushed red pepper and turned this into a cold pasta salad to take for lunch at the hospital, where heating time eats too far in to the five minutes I might have to wolf down my lunch between rounding on patients! Either way you serve it, this pasta is a crowd pleaser and travels easily, making it perfect for a Spring Potluck or picnic in the park!
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized bits
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
cooking spray or oil mister
9 ounces pasta (gemelli is pictured, but any will do)
4 teaspoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
4 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes, or buy the smaller pearls (bocconcini)
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Spray the skillet with oil and add chicken. Cook until cooked through, then transfer to a plate.
Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, increase the heat until the skillet to high. Add the olive oil and garlic, stirring until golden, about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until tomatoes become tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the pasta to the tomatoes. If pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Add chicken and toss well. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the fresh basil and cheese. Serve hot.
Recipe adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka.