When you are looking to enjoy the season's best flavors, it doesn’t get any better than this Caprese Pasta Salad. It is light and refreshing but oh so satisfying. The acidity of the vinegar helps to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes, while the creaminess of the cheese provides a delicious contrast. Finish it off with fresh basil, and be prepared for a party in your mouth.
A Caprese salad is a perfect way to enjoy the fresh flavors of summer, and why not turn it into a meal by making a Caprese salad with pasta?
This vegetarian dish comes together quickly and easily, making it the perfect option for a summertime lunch, picnic, or potluck.
Serve it as a main course or side dish - either way, this easy recipe will be a hit.
Because pasta salad Caprese can be served cold or at room temperature, you don’t have to worry about heating the kitchen when the temperatures start to rise.
So what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try and enjoy the flavors of summer!
Ingredients for Making Tomato Mozzarella Salad
- Balsamic Vinaigrette: I believe that homemade dressing is always best, and I use my homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing here. You could use a good quality purchased dressing if you are short on time.
- Pasta: I love cavatappi pasta in this recipe, but penne, fusilli, or rotini pasta are also good options. (Any short pasta will do!)
- Tomatoes: I like to use cherry tomatoes to make a cherry tomato Caprese salad, but feel free to use grape tomatoes or diced tomatoes.
- Mozzarella: If you can’t find mini-mozzarella pearls, you can dice a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Olives: Buy pre-sliced to save time. This is a non-traditional Caprese salad ingredient, but I like it because it plays well with the pasta.
- Basil: Wait until the last minute to add the basil.
Tips, Tricks, and Variations
- Make sure you wait until just before serving to add the basil. It quickly loses texture and taste, and it can turn black if refrigerated.
- Want an extra kick of sweetness and flavor? Finish your pasta salad Caprese recipe off with balsamic glaze.
- Feel free to mix things up! Pasta dishes are always adaptable, and this one is no exception. While tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil are mainstays of Caprese salad, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, or diced zucchini are also lovely here.
- Use a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil when making the dressing. It will make a difference in the final taste.
- Don’t skip the fresh basil leaves at the end! It completes the Caprese experience and is essential to the flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Caprese salad is a simple yet delicious Italian dish made with fresh mozzarella balls, tomatoes, and basil. A traditional Caprese salad is made with slices of ripe tomato, fresh mozzarella, and whole basil leaves. It is then drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
The salad can also be made with cherry tomatoes or bocconcini (small mozzarella balls).
While the classic version of the salad is fabulous, many variations of this dish can be enjoyed.
For example, some recipes call for adding grilled chicken, olives, or roasted peppers to the salad. Others use balsamic vinegar in place of olive oil or add garlic or onions for extra flavor. And, of course, pasta Caprese salad is always a hit.
The tomato Caprese salad gets its name from the Italian island of Capri, where it is said to have originated.
While the exact history of the salad is unknown, it is thought to have been created in the early 20th century. The dish gained popularity in the United States in the 1980s, and today it can be found on menus all over the world.
Yes, this recipe for Caprese pasta salad is great to make ahead of time, provided you wait until just before serving to add the fresh basil.
You can serve it chilled or at room temperature.
Bring it to room temperature before serving gluten-free pasta because cold gluten-free pasta tends to get hard.
Store Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator for three to four days.
How to Make Pasta Caprese Salad
Start by making the balsamic vinaigrette according to the instructions.
Next, boil the pasta until al dente in a large pot of salted water.
When it is done, drain the pasta and then rinse with cold water. Drain again.
After the pasta is drained, place it in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives.
Toss the pasta mixture with the desired amount of dressing.
Wait until just before serving to add the chopped fresh basil to your tomato basil mozzarella salad.
More Healthy Pasta Salad Recipes to Try
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad is full of Mediterranean flavors that will have you coming back for more.
- Spring Pasta Salad has all the best vegetables of the season in a deliciously fresh pasta salad.
- This Quinoa Pasta Salad is a great way to enjoy pasta and get some extra protein in your diet.
- Tortellini Pasta Salad is fresh, fun, and perfect for entertaining.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1 recipe balsamic vinaigrette
- 16 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 pound mini mozzarella balls
- ⅓ cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
- ⅓ cup fresh basil sliced thin
- Flakey salt and pepper to taste
- Make the balsamic vinaigrette according to the recipe.
- Cook the cavatappi according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Drain again.
- Transfer to a bowl and add the tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and kalamata olives.
- Toss with the desired amount of dressing.
- Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top with fresh basil, flakey salt,l and freshly ground black pepper just before serving.