Fresh, summery and delicious this Caprese Pasta Salad has all the flavours of the classic salad. With juicy cherry tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and a balsamic dressing this pasta dish is so easy to make and is ready in under 20 minutes!
Pasta salads have to be one of my favourite summer dishes, we love them! My orzo pesto pasta salad is one of the most popular pasta salads on the blog! They’re so easy to make, are great for lunch or dinner and are great as side dishes for all those potlucks or BBQs.
This pasta salad is fresh and summery, perfect for the whole family. It’s a quick and easy meal, ready in the time it takes to cook up some pasta!
What Is Caprese?
In cooking terms, Caprese refers to the Italian salad made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil.
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy – with minimum prep this is so easy to make and it’s ready in under 20 minutes!
- That balsamic dressing – just the right amount of oomph to lift the flavours but it doesn’t overpower the dish.
- A versatile dish – great for lunch or dinner this is also great for picnics, potlucks or BBQs
What You’ll Need
- Pasta – Farfalle works best for this dish but you could also use Penne or Fusilli.
- Tomatoes – I use cherry tomatoes, make sure they are rice and ripe but not squishy!
- Mozzarella – Fresh mozzarella pearls work really well in this recipe but if you can’t find them then you can use regular mozzarella cut or torn into chunks.
- Red Onion – Not a traditional ingredient for a Caprese salad, I like it as it adds a little heat to this dish. It’s totally optional though so if you’re not keen, leave it out.
- Basil – Fresh basil is best.
- For the dressing – You will need, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, dried oregano and salt and pepper.
How To Make Caprese Pasta Salad
- Prep the vegetables while the pasta is cooking. Depending on the size of your tomatoes you can halve them or quarter them.
- It’s up to you if you want to halve the mozzarella pearls too.
- Slice the red onion, if using. The thinner the better for this recipe.
- Make the dressing – whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Add the dried oregano, minced garlic, salt and pepper and whisk again.
- Add the drained pasta to a large bowl with the tomatoes, basil, red onion and mozzarella. Pour in the dressing.
- Carefully toss everything together.
Tips For Making The Best Caprese Pasta Salad
- Pasta – cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until it is al dente. Once drained I rinse pasta in cold water to stop it from cooking further and to cool out down.
- Basil – use fresh basil always for this recipe. Dried basil just won’t make the mark.
- Mozzarella – I use mozzarella pearls for this recipe, you should find them in most supermarkets. If you can’t find then you can use regular fresh mozzarella, just cut it into small chunks.
- Dressing – I always add all of the dressing to this pasta salad. I recommend leaving it to sit for a few minutes before you serve it so the pasta can soak up the dressing. You can also refrigerate this for 30 minutes or more which is really good too.
- Add-ins – We have had this with a number of different add-ins, sliced black or kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts or sun-dried tomatoes all work really well.
How To Serve Pasta Salad
Can I make this ahead? You can make the dressing a few days ahead, just keep it in the fridge and when you are ready to use it give it a good shake or whisk it up again. The pasta salad is best made fresh but can be made a day ahead. I wouldn’t add the basil until you are ready to serve it though.
Can I freeze this? No, this is not suitable for freezing. Any leftover can be stored in the fridge and should be eaten within 24 hours.
More Lunch Inspiration
If you’re not into pasta then try my Caprese Salad with Avocado & Courgette that’s a lovely summery salad. If you want more pasta salad then you might like my Broccoli Pasta Salad, great for getting the kids to eat broccoli! Or try my Halloumi Burgers, they always go down a treat here!
Have you made this Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe? Rate it and leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!
Caprese Pasta Salad
For the pasta salad
- 350 g pasta (5 1/2 cups) farfalle (pasta bows) work really well
- 300 g cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 cups) cut in half
- 30 g fresh basil (1 1/2 cups) roughly chopped
- 225 g mozzarella pearls ( 1 x 8oz pack) you can cut these in half or leave them whole
- 1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
For the dressing
- 80 ml extra virgin olive oil (1/3 of a cup)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, slice the red onion, cut the tomatoes in half and chop the basil.
- Then make the dressing. Add the extra virgin olive oil to a jug or bowl, whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Finally whisk in the oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside until the pasta is ready.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, then run it under the cold tap.
- Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl or mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, red onion and basil.Pour in the dressing, season with salt and pepper then toss carefully.You can serve immediately or you can leave it to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes and then serve.
- Pasta - Farfalle works best for this pasta salad, you could also use penne or fusilli. Make sure and cook the pasta until it is al dense, you don't want a mushy pasta salad. Once drained I rinse pasta in cold water to stop it from cooking further and to cool out down.
- Basil - use fresh basil always for this recipe. Dried basil just won't work.
- Mozzarella - I use mozzarella pearls for this recipe, you should find them in most large supermarkets. If you can't find then you can use regular fresh mozzarella cut it into small chunks.
- Dressing - I always add all of the dressing to this pasta salad. I recommend leaving it to sit for a few minutes before you serve it so the pasta can soak up the dressing. You can also refrigerate this for 30 minutes or more which is really good too.
- Add-ins - We have had this with a number of different add-ins, sliced black or kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts or sun-dried tomatoes all work really well.
- Serving size - this recipe makes enough for 6 people for lunch or enough for 4 if served for dinner.
- Freezing/storing/ making ahead - I don't recommend freezing this dish. You can store any leftovers in the fridge, use within a day for best results. You can make the dressing a couple of days ahead, the pasta salad itself can be made the day before but add the basil just before serving.
- Nutritional Information - All nutritional information is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. Information can vary depending on various factors but I have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
- Measurements - I weigh all my ingredients using an electric scale, all measurements are metric. Cup measurements are approximate.