Why you’ll love this recipe:
This caprese pasta salad takes your traditional pasta salad to a whole new level of delicious!
If you think pasta salad dishes have to be bland and coated in mayonnaise, this recipe will rock your world. It’s customizable, great for feeding a crowd, and easy to prep in advance.
- Customizable – Mix and match different ingredients to make this recipe your own! Not a fan of rotini? Swap it out! Want more veggies? Go ahead and add them! I provide even more options below.
- Big batch – This pasta salad makes 6 servings and can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a large crowd.
- Meal prep-friendly – Prepare the salad, transfer it to an airtight container, and keep it in the fridge. It’ll taste just as good the next day.
Whether you’re hosting a summer party, need a snack by the pool, or are looking for an easy side dish for weeknight dinners, this caprese pasta salad recipe always hits the spot!
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Pasta – I use rotini for this recipe, but any small-sized pasta like orecchiette, farfalle, penne, or fusilli can be used. Just be sure to cook them according to their package instructions!
- Grape tomatoes – These contribute a sweet flavor. I don’t recommend replacing them with other tomato varieties like heirloom or beefsteak as they’re likely to become soggy.
- Mozzarella – Fresh Mozzarella pearls or balls can typically be found in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.
- Extra virgin olive oil – This forms the base of the dressing adding a rich, savory flavor.
- Balsamic vinegar – Adds a sweet, tart taste that balances out the fats and enhances the natural sugar in the tomatoes.
How to make this recipe:
- Cook the pasta: Prepare the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain it immediately, and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Combine: In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients except for the basil and pasta, and gently mix to combine. Add the cooled pasta, and toss again. Finally, fold in the basil, saving a few leaves for garnish to make your salad truly picture-worthy.
- Chill: Cover the caprese pasta salad with plastic wrap, and transfer it to the fridge to chill for at least an hour. This step is important to help the flavors meld together!
- Serve: Give the ingredients a good stir, and add your basil leaves if you saved them. Finish with a drizzle of as little or as much balsamic glaze as you’d like, and enjoy!
- Let the pasta cool. It’s okay for your pasta to still be a little warm when adding it to the bowl. In fact, this can help the dressing stick. However, you don’t want it to still be piping hot. Otherwise, your caprese pasta salad will turn soggy, and we don’t want that!
- Prepare in advance. For a quick meal, this recipe can be prepared a day ahead of time and stored covered in the fridge. Just give it a good toss when you’re ready to serve.
- Make it a meal! Try adding protein like grilled chicken, tuna, or shrimp to transform this side dish into a complete meal.
- Add extra ingredients. You can customize the caprese pasta salad by adding other ingredients such as sliced black olives, diced red onion, bell pepper, or diced avocado.
- Store this caprese pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- The noodles will absorb some of the liquid. So, add a little more olive oil or balsamic vinegar as needed before serving to freshen your salad back up.
- I do not recommend freezing this recipe!
Traditional caprese salad is a classic Italian dish that has become popular all around the world.
If you don’t have fresh Mozzarella, burrata cheese is the next best thing. However, feta cheese, paneer, cheese, or halloumi cheese can all be used.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1 medium pot
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 8 ounces small size pasta Rotini, Orecchiette Note 1
- 10 ounces grape tomatoes halved
- 8 ounces pearl Mozzarella small fresh mozzarella balls
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon oregano dried
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 Fresh basil leaves slivered Note 2
- Balsamic Glaze and Fresh Basil Garnish
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water until a dente. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the halved tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Gently mix to combine.
- Add the cooled pasta and toss to coat.
- Fold in the slivered fresh basil leaves, reserving a few for garnish if desired.
- Cover the pasta salad using plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Before serving, give the pasta salad a stir and garnish with additional fresh basil leaves and drizzle on balsamic glaze if desired. Enjoy!
– Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
– Add a little more olive or balsamic vinegar before serving if the salad becomes a bit dry.
– I do not recommend freezing this recipe!
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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