Please Share the Caprese!

One of my favorite summer flavors is sweet basil. Every year I explore new ways to freshen up a dish with this sweet wonder to enjoy with my family, or friends, or both!

20150718_142439-1As you can see, my basil patch is just starting to shoot up. It has been an unusually wet summer in Kansas. The excessive rainfall and flooding has wreaked havoc on my garden! I am delighted to see the basil has survived and is starting to thrive.

Just in time, actually! I thinned the young plants recently and prepared a delicious caprese pasta salad to share with my Monday night ladies’ Bible study group. Several of the ladies asked for the recipe, so here it is!

pasta_120811I started with 2 cups of cooked pasta. My children always loved the bow tie variety when they were littles, so I kept with that nostalgia. After draining the excess water, I coated the pasta lightly with olive oil and stirred in a bit of salt and pepper. Next, I prepared a creamy dressing, stirring together about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. You can use more or less of either ingredient to your own liking. I then stirred the dressing and pasta together and let it chill in the fridge while I prepared the key caprese ingredients: basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella!

sun-dried_121351I love to use fresh cherry tomato halves for this salad, but my tomato plants have struggled through this soggy Kansas season. I opted instead for a handful of tangy sun-dried tomatoes. These are handy to have in your pantry for quick substitutes. I just slivered them up and they were ready to go in the dish!

basil_120533I picked a handful of young basil to thin out my row in the garden and allow the other plants to grow bigger. These young plants are still packed with great flavor and I never let them go to waste. I tore the leaves into smaller pieces for this salad.

mozz_121933Of course fresh and creamy mozzarella is a must! I like to chop mine a little chunky. I folded the tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella into the pasta salad and packed it for the church potluck.

The flavors had plenty of time to blend as we greeted each other with fellowship and prayer. This caprese pasta salad tasted delicious alongside other summer favorites, but could also stand alone as a quick and easy summer meal. Enjoy!

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Plum Crazy

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It’s canning season again, my very favorite time of year. I love everything about it.  I love the harvest, the preparation, the processing, and the filling of the pantry shelves. I love the taste of freshness, the smell of goodness, and the popping sound the lids make when they are officially “sealed”. I love the anticipation. I love the exhaustion. I love the satisfaction.  Yes!

 

Where does this love come from? Why do I enjoy ridiculous hours spent picking, seeding, cooking, filling, sealing, and putting up? Why do I welcome steam burns and broken nails and earth stained hands?

 

I must be plum crazy, or maybe pear crazy, or apple crazy, or zucchini crazy!

 

Whatever kind of crazy, it comes from somewhere. My mother was crazy too, and my grandmother, and…

 

This is the type of crazy that is carried through time by tradition.  This crazy joyful knowledge is passed on through the seasons. Tradition stretches. It expands from the wild plum thickets near the childhood farm to the backyard plum tree near the capital city.

 

This is an art form, handed down. It is a skill, passed along. It is a gift, shared. It is a love, continued.

 

I have observed. I have helped. I have been trained. I have been given the gift of experience. I have been released.

 

And now, I long to pick plums from the tree.

 

How about you? What traditions are you plum crazy about?

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