Caprese pasta salad is chock full of vibrant color, fresh flavors, and bright herbal notes.
Mildly sweet and creamy bocconcini cheese melds with pasta, tomatoes, fragrant fresh basil, and balsamic vinaigrette in a refreshing flavor combination.
Serve chilled as a side dish, appetizer, or even a light summer meal with a glass of crisp white wine.
Easy Delish Pasta Salad!
- With its simple, fresh, and vibrant ingredients, pasta Caprese salad is the very essence of Mediterranean cuisine!
- This no-fuss recipe only uses five simple ingredients and can be tossed together in minutes. It’s ideal for taking along to picnics and barbecues.
- Caprese pasta salad tastes best cold but can sit at room temperature for hours without worry.
- Make it ahead and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to meld and the herbal notes to deepen.
- Serve it chilled as an appetizer with a crisp Pinot Grigio or lime spritzer and channel your dream Tuscan villa vacation!
Only 5 Ingredients!
Bocconcini – Bite-sized fresh mozzarella balls give Caprese salad its signature flavor and flair. If you can’t find them, use larger balls of fresh mozzarella and cut them into quarters, or use mozzarella pearls if they are available. This salad is the perfect vehicle for fresh bocconcini mozzarella cheese, with its distinctive creamy texture and mild, milky taste.
Pasta – Bowtie pasta is ideal due to its small size, and especially because it retains a nice bite at the center, even when you boil it to get extra tender edges. Other small pasta can be substituted, such as rotini, orzo, or even cheese-filled tortellini. For best results, cook pasta al dente.
Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes cut in half provide pleasant acid notes to Caprese salad. For a sweeter salad, use grape, or sun gold tomatoes.
Basil – Fragrant fresh basil is abundant in summer, and it alone makes for a good reason to make this Caprese pasta salad recipe! Other fresh herbs can be added to lend more complex earthy notes. Oregano, chives, and marjoram are part of the Italian herb playlist and will taste terrific added in.
Balsamic Vinaigrette – Use balsamic vinegar, or balsamic glaze mixed with a good quality, fruity olive oil for the best flavor. Or, to keep the colors vibrant, look for golden balsamic vinegar, which is made from white wine and has a sweeter taste, and won’t turn the pasta brown. In a pinch, you can use white wine vinegar, or substitute this tangy lemon vinaigrette.
Variations – If you seek a more savory flavor, sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan or Romano cheese, or toss in some calamata olives or capers. Chopped onions, peas, grated carrots, or pine nuts will round out the flavors and bring in more texture. To make this salad more of a full meal, toss in some flaked salmon, chicken breast, or even some canned albacore tuna or sardines.
How to Make Caprese Pasta Salad
Easy is the name of the game in this quick recipe.
- Cook the pasta al dente, then drain and rinse.
- Toss with the rest of the ingredients (as per the recipe below).
- Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
- Dress with more vinaigrette, if desired.
Tips for Success!
- Cook pasta al dente, for a chewy bite. It’s a pleasant texture, and will hold up well to the liquids in the dressing.
- Rinse pasta after boiling to remove the sticky starches. This will help better absorb the vinaigrette and flavors.
- Toss pasta once or twice while it’s resting in the refrigerator to moisten the pasta and redistribute the flavors. Toss once again before serving.
- To make ahead and refrigerate, use uncut tomatoes, or refrain from adding them until just before serving.
Serving and Storing
Serve Caprese salad with simple entrees such as baked pork chops or rosemary chicken. Add sliced crostini, sourdough bread, or garlic bread for a delicious meal. Caprese salad will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. For the best texture, refrigerate without the tomatoes and add them in before serving.
Have you tried this Caprese Pasta Salad recipe? Leave a comment and rating below!
Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
- 8 ounces bowtie pasta or other medium pasta noodles
- 8 ounces marinated mini bocconcini
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves chopped
- ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette*
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
- Toss cooked and cooled pasta, mini bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and balsamic vinaigrette together in a large bowl.
- Refrigerate for an hour and toss before serving.
- If there is no balsamic vinaigrette on hand, use Italian dressing with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar added.
- Cook pasta al dente, for a chewy bite and to hold up to the liquids in the dressing.
- Toss pasta once or twice while in the refrigerator to redistribute flavors.
- Caprese pasta salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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