This caprese pasta salad is such an easy to make side dish to add to any summer bbq or family gathering. Juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil tossed with tender pasta and a simple balsamic dressing.
There is nothing better than a good ole summer pasta salad. This Italian pasta salad or this classic macaroni salad are so wonderful too that it’s sometimes hard to decide which one I want to make. They are most definitely on a rotation!
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Table of contents
Best Caprese Pasta
This salad is such a simple recipe that takes our favorite Caprese salad to pasta form and a whole new level.
What is Caprese Pasta Salad Made of?
Bowtie pasta – a pound of pasta is what I use for this recipe.
Fresh mozzarella balls – You can buy the little mozzarella pearls or slice your own cubes of a block of fresh mozzarella cheese.
Grape tomatoes – halved. Feel free to use fresh cherry tomatoes or regular fresh tomatoes diced into cubes.
Fresh basil leaves – sliced. Feel free to add extra basil if you’d like.
Balsamic dressing – I love making homemade balsamic vinaigrette. You can also make this with red wine vinegar too.
Salt and black pepper to taste
1: Use a different type of favorite pasta like rotini pasta, large shells or penne pasta.
2: Add ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts or sliced black olives or green olives for an extra twist.
3: Add some protein like grilled chicken, grilled steak for shrimp for more of a complete meal. Or simply add some crispy prosciutto or bacon crumbles for added flavor.
4: Use white balsamic vinegar.
5: Use any favorite store-bought balsamic vinaigrette, balsamic glaze or simply sprinkle it with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic with minced garlic and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
6: If you prefer a stronger garlic flavor, add 2-3 more minced garlic cloves or use roasted garlic for a milder taste.
7: Swap the balsamic dressing for a store-bought pesto sauce instead
Why is it called Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is named after the island of Capri, which is located in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. It represents ingredients and traditional flavors of the region. A classic Caprese salad typically consists of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and maybe a sprinkle of salt.
How to Make this Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
Step 1: In a large pot of salted water to boil, add the noodles and cook pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta (usually about 10 minutes).
Step 2: Drain the pasta into a colander in the sink and rinse under cold water for 1-2 minutes to cool the pasta.
Step 3: Add pasta to a large bowl.
Step 4: Add the fresh mozzarella pearls, tomatoes, and chopped basil.
Step 5: When ready to serve, add ⅓ – ½ cup of balsamic vinaigrette dressing and salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat well.
Step 6: Let it the salad sit at room temperature at least 20-30 minutes so the flavors meld together.
What to Serve With Caprese Pasta Salad
Other than your favorite burgers and hot dogs, these are some my favorite main dishes.
- Bruschetta Chicken
- Italian Chicken
- BBQ Chicken
- Buffalo Turkey Burgers
- Grilled Honey Dijon Pork Tenderloin
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces bowtie pasta
- 8 ounces mozzarella pearls
- 1 ½ cups grape tomatoes halved
- ½ cup fresh basil chopped
- Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, boil water and cook the pasta, and cook according to package directions for al dente pasta (usually about 10 minutes).
- Drain pasta into a colander in the sink and rinse under cold water for 1-2 minutes to cool the pasta.
- Add pasta to a large mixing bowl.
- Add mozzarella pearls, grape tomatoes, and fresh basil.
- When ready to serve, add ⅓ – ½ cup of balsamic vinaigrette dressing and salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat well.
- Let it sit for the flavors to meld for at least 20-30 minutes.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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