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Caprese Pasta Salad

This Caprese Pasta Salad is fresh yet satisfyingly delicious loaded with balsamic chicken, juicy tomatoes, buttery mozzarella, fresh basil and creamy Avocado Pesto Dressing! This salad boasts layers of flavor that elevates it to a MUST MAKE Pasta Salad!  It makes a fabulous light lunch or dinner that is healthy yet tastes luxuriously delicious. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

  • 16 oz. rigatoni pasta
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 oz. mozzarella pearls
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts optional

Balsamic Chicken

Avocado Pesto Dressing

  • 2 small avocados peeled and pitted (not large Haas)
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in generously salted water just until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Meanwhile, add chicken to a large serving bowl (whatever you are going to make salad in). Add 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Add All of the Avocado Pesto ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Add additional milk if needed to thin to pourable consistency.
  • Add pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and pine nuts to a bowl and toss to combine. Stir in desired amount of dressing (you may not use all of the dressing). Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Chill any remaining dressing separately. When ready to serve, stir in spinach and additional dressing if needed. Best if served within one hour.