Caprese Pasta Salad

Published Date: April 28, 2024

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Italian Caprese Salad is a refreshing, delicious, and crowd-pleasing summer pasta dish! With bold and tangy mouthwatering flavors, Caprese Pasta Salad is sure to be a knockout- not only at home, but also at picnics, potlucks, and barbecues!

caprese pasta salad in a white serving bowl.

Caprese Pasta Salad is a delightful fusion of Italian flavors and textures! It combines the vibrant colors of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil with the hearty appeal of pasta, creating a dish that’s both light and satisfying!

This dish can be made ahead of time and served cold or at room temperature, making it so easy to prep for parties and get-togethers! Bring this salad and a batch of my Classic Lemonade, and any BBQ will be lucky to have you!

white serving spoon holding caprese pasta salad.

Caprese Pasta Salad is loaded with fresh, flavorful ingredients that combine to make a zesty and mouthwatering flavor! Homemade Herb Vinaigrette is the perfect element that brings this dish together!

All About Caprese Pasta Salad

Taste: Caprese pasta salad has a burst of fresh and vibrant flavors! The pasta provides a mild, nutty base, while the cherry tomatoes add a juicy sweetness with a hint of tanginess. Creamy mozzarella brings a touch of richness, and fresh basil adds a pop of aromatic, peppery notes. Finish off this dish with a homemade herb vinaigrette, and your tastebuds will truly be impressed!

Texture: Caprese Pasta Salad combines chewy pasta, juicy tomatoes, creamy cheese, and crisp basil, with a light and smooth dressing. Pine nuts and red onions scattered throughout give a nice crunch to this salad. It’s a delicious mix of textures and flavors in every bite!

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ingredients for caprese pasta salad in individual white bowls on a white wooden table.

Caprese Pasta Salad Ingredients

This dish calls for simple yet flavorful ingredients and is completed with a zesty herb vinaigrette!

Herb Vinaigrette:
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Pasta Salad:
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Mozzarella pearls
  • Red onion
  • Pine Nuts
  • Orrechiette pasta
  • Parsley

How To Make Caprese Pasta Salad

Step One: In a large mixing bowl, add all vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until emulsified. Remove 1/4 cup of the dressing and set aside in a jar or small bowl.

Step Two: Add tomatoes, mozzarella, onions, and pine nuts to the same large bowl and gently stir to coat it in the vinaigrette. Allow this mixture to marinate covered in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Step Three: After 20 minutes, add the cooked pasta to the bowl and stir to combine the ingredients.

Step Four: Just before serving, add the remaining 1/4 cup of vinaigrette to the pasta salad and garnish with fresh chopped basil. Serve and enjoy!

Variations and Substitutions

  • If anybody has a tree nut allergy, feel free to omit the pine nuts from the recipe entirely.
  • Marinated mozzarella pearls would pack an extra punch in this recipe!
  • Shallots can be used in place of red onions.
  • Add some crushed red pepper to the vinaigrette for some heat!
close up of caprese pasta salad.

FAQs:

  • Can I make the Herb Vinaigrette in a jar?
    • Of course! In fact, I find that using a sealed jar makes it easier to emulsify (blend) all the ingredients into a more even mixture. Simply add all the ingredients to a jar, seal with a lid, and shake vigorously. Don’t forget to reserve ¼ c. for later use in the recipe.
  • I am having a hard time finding orecchiette pasta. What other pasta can I use?
    • Any short cut pasta will work just as well in Caprese Pasta Salad. Substitution suggestions include shells, rotini, farfalle (bow ties), penne, and fusilli, to name a few.
  • Can I make Caprese Pasta Salad ahead of time?
    • Yes. This pasta salad actually tastes even better after sitting overnight in the refrigerator; however, it is not recommended to make Caprese Pasta Salad more than 2 days ahead of time to ensure freshness of the ingredients. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • Are there any suggested variations for Caprese Pasta Salad?
    • I have always enjoyed changing up recipes by adding ingredients that I love to them, and this recipe is no different.  Some of my personal favorite variations to Caprese Pasta Salad include avocados, fresh peaches, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, fresh mint, pesto, and even a cooked protein like chicken or shrimp. Let your imagination- and palate- be your own personal guide.
caprese pasta salad in a white serving bowl.

Caprese Pasta Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Fresh, juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil, and creamy mozzarella. Add tender pasta, and you’ve just made the time-honored and classic Italian Caprese Salad into a refreshing, delicious, and crowd-pleasing summer pasta dish. With bold and tangy mouthwatering flavors, Caprese Pasta Salad is sure to be a knockout- not only at home, but also at picnics, potlucks, and barbecues.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: caprese pasta salad, Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe, Italian Caprese Pasta Salad, Pasta Salad Recipes, Summer Pasta Salad Recipes, Tomato Basil Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Marinating Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8

EQUIPMENT

  • Large serving bowl
  • Small airtight container

INGREDIENTS

Herb Vinaigrette Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup basil chopped
  • ¼ cup chives chopped
  • 1/8 cup parsley chopped
  • ½- 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼- ½ tsp. pepper to taste

Pasta Salad:

  • 10 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 8 oz. mozzarella pearls
  • ½ cup red onion thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup pine nuts lightly toasted
  • 12 oz. orecchiette pasta cooked to al dente and drained
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Prepare the vinaigrette in a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, basil, chives, parsley, salt, and pepper, and whisk until all ingredients are emulsified. Reserve ¼ c. of the vinaigrette to an airtight container and set aside for later use.
  • Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, onions, and pine nuts to the serving bowl with the vinaigrette. Gently toss to coat. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the serving bowl, and stir well to combine.
  • Just before serving, add the reserved vinaigrette to the pasta salad, and mix well.
  • Garnish with fresh basil.
  • Serve and enjoy!

NOTES

This recipe is best made with fresh herbs and ingredients.
Diced, fresh mozzarella can be used in place of the mozzarella pearls.
Adding cooked shrimp or chicken will transform this side dish into a full meal.

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Gabby Hubbell Family Busy Family Recipes Author

From one busy family to another, I see you.

Hi, I’m Gabby! From crockpots to one-pot recipes, we’re eager to make dinner time a breeze for you and your family. Follow along for recipes even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy time and time again!
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