This Caprese Pasta Salad is quick, simple, and so good! It combines all the classic flavors of traditional caprese salad with the comfort of tender pasta noodles for the ultimate side dish that’s perfect for summer BBQs, pitch-ins, weeknight dinners, and more.
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Pass the Pasta Salad, Please! Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Pasta salad is having a moment right now, and we’re totally here for it! Living in the Midwest, it’s a staple at all our gatherings, especially during the summer.
There are endless variations of the dish. However, with the warm weather in mind, we wanted to create an option that is quick to toss together and loaded with flavor without weighing you down.
As a result, this easy caprese pasta salad was born! Free from mayo or heavy sauces, it’s the perfect addition to your summertime recipe lineup.
Not only is it quick to prepare and unbelievably delicious, but it also:
- Requires just a handful of ingredients.
- Stores well for a make-ahead option that doubles as
- Works as a satisfying side dish and can be bulked up for a complete meal.
- Makes enough to feed a crowd.
What Is a Caprese Salad?
The traditional caprese salad (not this caprese pasta salad) is an Italian dish made with fresh tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arranged in a layered circle on a plate, the dish represents the Italian flag.
It is said that the first caprese salad was made by an Italian stone worker in the 1920s who created the dish after WWI as a tribute to his country. The name translates to mean “the salad of Capri,” which is where the salad was made.
Although immediately popular, the salad gained traction all over the world in the ’50s and remains a staple across the globe today. As a result, there are endless caprese-inspired recipes like garlic caprese bread, caprese baked orzo pasta, turkey caprese sandwiches, and this salad!
No matter how the flavors are enjoyed, they’re always incredible!
What Is Caprese Pasta Salad Made Of?
For this recipe, we took the classic components of a caprese salad, and added pasta! Here’s what we used:
- Pasta – We typically use rotini pasta noodles, but any shape you like best will work!
- Tomatoes – Traditionally, caprese salad is made with Heirloom tomatoes, but we’ve found that Grape tomatoes have a sweeter taste and hold up better in the salad.
- Mozzarella – Make sure you use fresh Mozzarella balls! Miniature or cherry-sized varieties work best.
- Herbs and Spices – Fresh basil, salt, pepper, and oregano create a savory, herbaceous flavor.
- Olive Oil – This forms the base of the dressing, creating an emulsion that combines the ingredients.
- Balsamic Vinegar – Adds a punchy, slightly fruity taste that pairs well with the balsamic glaze.
- Balsamic Glaze – A reduction of balsamic vinegar, this is crucial to any caprese recipe and is responsible for the sweet flavor that leaves us all coming back for more.
How to Make the Best Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
The name of the game around here is simple and easy, and this pasta salad fits the bill! With just a few steps, it’s ready in no time.
- Prepare the Pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. Immediately drain the water, and rinse the pasta under fresh, cold water to stop the cooking process. Then, set it aside.
- Make the Dressing. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together until smooth.
- Combine the Ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, tomatoes, Mozzarella, and fresh basil. Gently toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the mixture, and toss again to coat. Drizzle the balsamic glaze on top, using as little or as much as you’d like. We tend to have a heavy hand with it.
- Chill. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and transfer it to the fridge to chill.
- Serve. Give your caprese pasta salad a gentle stir to redistribute the ingredients, and enjoy cold!
We kept this recipe simple, but feel free to mix and match different ingredients to make it your own!
- Add Extra Fats. Incorporate a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, sliced olives, or avocado for extra texture and flavor.
- Make It a Main Course. Top off your salad with chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, or tuna to transform it from an appetizer or side dish to a complete meal.
- Boost the Flavor. Add mince garlic or extra herbs and spices.
- Include More Veggies. Fold in diced onions or mushrooms for added nutrients and fiber.
This caprese pasta salad pairs amazingly with all your favorite main courses! For example, some great options include:
- Turkey, Chicken, or Beef Burgers
- Oven Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders
- Sheet Pan Salmon
- Ground Beef Philly Cheesesteak
How to Store
Transferred to an airtight container, this recipe will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days. However, some of the dressing will likely be absorbed.
So, add an extra drizzle of oil or balsamic glaze before serving to freshen it back up. Then, give it a quick toss, and enjoy!
More Pasta Salad Recipes
If you enjoy this caprese pasta salad, you won’t want to miss out on more of our easy pasta salad recipes below!
- Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Warm Italian Pasta Salad
- Easy Summer Pasta Salad with Fruit
Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 pound pasta any shape
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced
- 1 cup fresh Mozzarella balls miniature or cherry-sized
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic glaze
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano until well combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta, sliced grape tomatoes, Mozzarella balls, and chopped fresh basil. Gently toss to combine.
- Pour the prepared dressing over the pasta salad, and toss to coat all the ingredients evenly.
- Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the pasta salad, using as much or as little as desired.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the salad to a serving dish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Serve chilled and enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.