The classic flavors of Caprese salad and pasta comes together in this fresh and easy Caprese Pasta Salad. A simple vegetarian pasta salad with simple but fresh and flavorful ingredients - cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.
This pasta salad is perfect as an everyday family side dish or it can feed a crowd at summer parties, picnics or barbeques.
I especially love to make this in the summers when the husband is on the grill. I usually just put together a quick salad and open a bottle of wine. Dinnertime doesn't get easier than that. I love to serve this caprese pasta salad as a side with Grilled Masala Lamb Chops or Tandoori Chicken Burger. If I can also quickly shake up a Coconut Lime Margarita, then the day is just made!
- Short pasta - any short pasta like fusilli, cavatappi, conchiglie/shells, farfalle/bow tie or penne works in this recipe.
- Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes - red or yellow cherry tomatoes can be used. For the best pop of color use both or if you are using only one, make sure you use the red one.
- Mozzarella - fresh mozzarella is highly recommended in this recipe. You can use round slices that you cut up or tear up into smaller pieces or use mozzarella pearls.
- Fresh basil - fresh basil is the key to a caprese salad’s flavor.
- Homemade dressing - fresh homemade dressing is highly recommended as it is so very simple to make and amps up the freshness in this pasta salad dish.
Cook pasta in salted water, to al dente according to package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, make the dressing.
For the dressing, add all the ingredients together in a 2 cup measuring cup and whisk well to emulsify.
Drain the pasta and add it to a bowl large enough to hold the pasta salad.
Add the halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces and basil to the bowl.
Pour the dressing on top and toss gently to mix well.
Top with more fresh basil and serve.
- To make this recipe vegan, substitute mozzarella cheese with vegan mozzarella.
- If you don't happen to have cherry tomatoes on hand, you can always use any fresh tomatoes and chop them up to the size of halved cherry tomatoes. Chopped sundried tomatoes is also another option.
- To substitute mozzarella cheese, you can use goat cheese or feta cheese crumbles.
- If you don't have fresh basil, it may be best to wait to make this recipe till you can get fresh basil. Fresh basil is key to the caprese flavor. If you still want to make this, you can substitute dried basil and chiffonade some baby spinach to get the look of the Caprese salad.
Want to change things up a little bit for this salad recipe. Here are some variations that work beautifully.
- Add leftover grilled chicken to this salad to make it more filling.
- Toss this pasta salad with some pesto to make it a pesto caprese pasta salad.
- You can also add in some avocado, olives, artichoke hearts, spring salad greens or onions.
- Various components of this pasta salad can be made ahead and then tossed together at the time of the meal to make it easier. You can cook the pasta ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The dressing can also be made ahead, just give it a quick whisk to emulsify the ingredients before you add it to the pasta salad.
- Leftovers of this pasta salad can easily be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and used for lunch or dinner the next day.
- This Caprese pasta salad can be served warm or at room temperature. If it has been stored in the refrigerator, please bring it to at least almost room temperature before serving.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 8 oz pasta, fusilli makes about 4 cups when cooked
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved lengthwise
- 8 oz fresh Mozzarella log Belgioso sliced log is a favorite.
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
For the dressing
- ½ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2-3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice juice from half a lemon
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried or fresh
- salt to taste
- crushed black pepper to taste
- Cook pasta in salted water, to al dente according to package instructions.8 oz pasta, fusilli
- While the pasta is cooking, make the dressing.
- For the dressing, add all the ingredients together in a 2 cup measuring cup and whisk well to emulsify.½ cup olive oil, 2-3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon oregano, salt, crushed black pepper
- Drain the pasta and add it to a bowl large enough to hold the pasta salad.
- Add the halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces and basil to the bowl.2 cups cherry tomatoes, 8 oz fresh Mozzarella log, ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- Pour the dressing on top and toss gently to mix well.
- Top with more fresh basil and serve.