Caprese Bread Salad and Baked Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce with Three Cheeses

by Darina on January 13, 2013

Caprese Bread Salad and Baked Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce with Three Cheeses

I’m back this weekend with a couple more Italian recipes, which I’m really digging again. I go through phases, eating a lot of a certain dish or cuisine until I’m sick of it. I’m definitely back in the pasta phase. And eating a lot of Caprese salad, even though tomatoes are out of season. This here Caprese has a bit of a twist–chunks of bread toasted with olive oil and drizzled with a balsamic dressing. It takes the concept of a panzanella and marries it to fresh tomatoes, chunks of fresh mozzarella, red onion, and capers. This type of dish is why I love Italian food so much; it’s so simple yet utterly delicious and satisfying.
caprese.collageCaprese Bread Salad

Serves Two


8 Campari tomatoes
1/3 Ciabatta baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
sliced red onion
basil leaves


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced


1) Toss bread with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toast in oven at 350 or a toaster oven until golden brown.
2) Tear mozzarella into bite-sized chunks and arrange on a platter with tomatoes slices. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
3) To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl; pour evenly over tomatoes and bread and garnish with capers, slices of red onion and basil leaves. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.

Rigatoni Baked in Vodka Sauce with Three Cheese and Garlic Crumb Topping


I love a Mac ‘n Cheese dish, especially when the cold and dreary winter months call for some good comfort food. Although I almost always make my food from scratch, sometimes I’ll buy a jar of good quality vodka sauce and have it with linguine or use it in a baked pasta dish. When I make it myself, I use Ree Drummond’s recipe, from The Pioneer Womanrigatoni
To make this dish for six people, you will need the following ingredients:

4 cups rigatoni
3 cups vodka sauce
1/4 cup cubed pancetta
olive oil
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup Panko style or homemade breadcrumbs (day old bread ground in a food processor)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper


1) Preheat oven to 375F. Cook rigatoni in lots of boiling salty water until al dente. In the meantime, saute pancetta in a bit of olive oil until golden and a bit crispy. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, pancetta, and sauce. Pour into a ten-inch casserole dish.
3) In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and cheese together. In another bowl, mix together butter, garlic, and parsley. Sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs over pasta, followed by a few grindings of fresh black pepper. Spoon bits of the butter mixture randomly over breadcrumbs.
4) Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie January 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Oh man, cheesy pastas are my weakness. If I could eat them everyday if they weren’t so bad for me :(

Darina January 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Thanks, Stephanie. I think any food without a bar code is a perfectly healthy option :)

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Amy F October 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I made this last night for a dinner party (with PW vodka sauce) and it was delicious. I was confused, however, about the amount of pasta listed in the ingredients. In the end I figured you must have meant 4 cups of UNcoooked pasta, as 4 cups cooked was not nearly enough for the six servings or the casserole dish. I did double the amount of pancetta, and probably would use even more next time. The mix of cheese and garlic crumb topping was perfect. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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