Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roasted Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad with Basil Chiffonade, Fresh Mint, Mozzarella Pearls, Smoked Almonds, Shaved Red Onion, & Homemade Roasted Strawberry-White Balsamic-Poppy Seed Dressing

Roasted Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad with Basil Chiffonade, Fresh Mint, Mozzarella Pearls, Smoked Almonds, Shaved Red Onion, & Homemade Roasted Strawberry-White Balsamic-Poppy Seed Dressing
Memorial Day is right around the corner. Who's excited? I am! Just another excuse to throw a party and cook yummy comfort food. What are y'all cooking? I normally make fried chicken or BBQ with a pasta salad or potato salad on the side. Most likely, it's always a potato salad. So, I decided to change it up a bit and make a sweet + savory pasta salad filled with fresh, summery ingredients. In the end, I knew I wanted to whip up a Caprese inspired dish, but with a slight twist. But, this Caprese salad wouldn't have no stinkin' tomatoes, it would have beautifully roasted strawberries instead. Yep, strawberry caprese salads are in... actually any fruit would work and it'd be absolutely delish. Oh by they way, roasting fruit is ah-may-zing. I do it almost every time I want to boost the fruity flavor of a component in any of my dishes. But, if you aren't feeling the whole roasting fruit thing, don't worry we added in some fresh strawberries as well. The remaining ingredients include the following: a whole mess of basil, mint, shaved red onion, smoked almonds, mozzarella pearls, & a homemade roasted strawberry-white balsamic-poppy seed dressing. I love poppy seed dressings because of their sweet nature, but also the sensation you get when popping them in your mouth. My take on a poppy seed dressing isn't thick, but more like a creamy vinaigrette. It is thinned out with a white balsamic reduction and boosted in flavor with some mashed, roasted strawberries. It really packs a delightful punch! This recipe would be ideal for any celebrations this weekend or perfect for a picnic!! Enjoy :)

For the Roasted Strawberries:
24oz Fresh Strawberries, Halved & Hulled
6T Maple Syrup
6T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1t Salt (a scant teaspoon)
3T Port
Homemade Balsamic Reduction

For the Roasted Strawberry-White Balsamic-Poppy Seed Dressing:
¼C White Balsamic Vinegar
1T Honey
 ¼C Mayo (or you can increase it to ½C for a creamier dressing)
1T Poppy Seeds
8oz Roasted Strawberries
Salt & Pepper, To Taste (and a pinch of sugar if needed)

For the Roasted Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad:
1lb Pasta, Cooked Al Dente & Cooled
16oz Roasted Strawberries
8oz Fresh Strawberries, Halved & Hulled (this is optional, but I like the combination)
1 Bunch of Fresh Basil, Chiffonade (we like a whole mess of basil)
2T Fresh Mint, Minced
24oz Mozzarella Pearls
½C Red Onion, Thinly Shaved
1C Smoked Almonds, Roughly Chopped
Prepared Roasted Strawberry-White Balsamic-Poppy Seed Dressing

1. For the Roasted Strawberries: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use two rimmed baking sheets and line them with a silpat or parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and port until incorporated. Cut the strawberries in half and hull them. Place the strawberry pieces into the bowl with the maple syrup mixture and toss to cover the berries. Arrange the strawberries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 30-45 minutes or until their juice begins to thicken, but do not burn. Gently scrape the strawberries into a boll and fold in the port and balsamic reduction.
2. For the Roasted Strawberry-White Balsamic-Poppy Seed Dressing: Add the white balsamic vinegar and honey to a small saucepan and cook to reduce for 5-10 minutes, or until thick and syrupy. Set this aside until ready to use. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo and poppy seeds until they are fully incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the white balsamic reduction while whisking to form a smooth & slightly creamy dressing. Add in 8oz of the roasted strawberries and mash with a fork to break them up into small to medium pieces. Taste the dressing and season to taste, adding salt, pepper, sugar, or a splash of vinegar to taste if needed.
3. For the Pasta Salad: To the large bowl that has the dressing in it, add in the cooked pasta, roasted strawberries, fresh strawberries, basil Chiffonade, minced mint, mozzarella pearls, shaved red onions, and smoked almonds. Gently toss the ingredients together until the dressing has completely coated everything. Chill until you are ready to serve.


  1. Heavenly, simply heavenly...

    Thanks for sharing, Juliana...

    1. Thanks for the kind comment! Lemme know if you make it :)


  2. Sometimes I read your recipes and think we share the same pantry! I read this and started looking to see if I could throw this together for tonight's dinner. I had everthing except the poppy seeds, so I substituted black sesame seeds, I added a sliced grilled chicken breast and heaven on a plate! Thank goodness there is enough for lunch tomorrow, I'm seriously addicted to this refreshing, filling salad. Thank you for sharing. Miss B

    1. I do that too, sometimes pantry cooking is the best kinda cooking because of the creative stuff you have to think of! So glad you enjoyed it, love hearing the feedback!!