Kitchen Capers

Pasta Salad with Capers

A jar of marinated capers in the fridge is one of my kitchen staples. Capers are so versatile, adding a bit of acidity and saltiness to so many dishes — salads, sides, entrees — you name it.  My focus here is salads, a good match with Memorial Day barbecues. First is a refreshing spinach pasta salad with a tangy dill-laced vinaigrette.  Then below it is one of my favorite salad dressings, Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette, to which lemon zest adds a distinct lively character. For both recipes, capers are the centerpiece. My kitchen capers!
See more tasty salads and dressings on Get Cooking Simply.

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Spinach Pasta Salad with Caper-Dill Dressing
Serves 6 – 8

12       oz. uncooked penne rigate or farfalle pasta *
1/4     cup fresh lemon juice *
1/4     cup olive oil
1         Tbsp. capers
1         Tbsp. caper liquid
1         clove garlic, crushed
1/2      tsp. each dried dill, salt and fresh ground pepper
3         stalks celery, sliced
1/2      small red onion, thinly sliced
5         cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1/2      cup pitted kalamata olives or medium pitted ripe olives, cut into halves
           Shaved Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta (optional garnish)

Cook pasta as package directs. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water; drain well.
Whisk dressing ingredients in a large bowl: lemon juice, olive oil, capers plus liquid, garlic, dill, salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes.
Just before serving, add pasta, celery, onion, spinach and olives; toss to coat. Garnish with cheese, if desired.

* Pasta may be cooked several days in advance. Keep refrigerated in a covered bowl or sealed plastic bag.
Before juicing the lemon, you might want to grate the peel if you’re also going to make the Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette below.


Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette
Light, simple, classic.    Makes 2/3 cup

1/3     cup Nakano seasoned rice vinegar
1/3     cup extra virgin olive oil
           Grated zest of one lemon
1         clove garlic, crushed
1         Tbsp. drained capers
1         tsp. kosher salt
1/8     tsp. pepper 

Combine ingredients in small bowl or measuring cup. Crush capers against the side of the bowl with a spoon; stir vinaigrette well.
Use as desired with leafy green salads. Or drizzle over blanched, chilled green beans, asparagus or broccoli. Or sprinkle on hot-cooked spinach or chard. Refrigerate any remaining vinaigrette.

Spinach Pasta Salad and photo developed for Meyer Corporation.  Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette developed for Nakano Vinegars.

11 thoughts on “Kitchen Capers”

  • This dish looks so refreshing and yummy! We love salads at our house, and it’s always nice to get some different ideas. Celery is about the only food I’m not crazy about. Any ideas for a substitute?
    By the way, I just love your blog, Rosie and Rita!!

    • I add celery for its crunchiness. You could try green beans (cut in thirds depending on the size), or small broccoli florets. Glad you like our blog, Debbie! Good to hear from you :o)

    • Thank you Debbie! Happy to know you enjoy our blog – feel free to comment or ask questions any time 🙂

  • Rita — I keep capers in my fridg too but tend to forget to use them! Glad you’re reminding me. I like to chop and add to tuna salad. I know it’s seems like capers are so small they don’t need chopping, but it distributes the flavor better in some recipes.

    • Yumm, capers in tuna salad; that’s a natural. Yes crushing the capers distributes the flavors, which is what I do in the Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette. For tuna salad, you can just squish them inside the bowl; no need to “chop” :o)

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