This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This colorful and tasty Caprese Pasta Salad is the ultimate fusion of simplicity, freshness, and pasta perfection! Featuring tender pasta, juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil all tossed together in tangy balsamic glaze vinaigrette. In just 20 minutes, you can enjoy this scrumptious spin on the classic Italian favorite!
Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
Get ready for a fresh twist on one of my all-time favorite Italian classics! Introducing my caprese pasta salad recipe! Just like my Mini Caprese Salad Bites and Caprese Chicken, this dish captures the essence of a traditional caprese salad with its irresistible combination of fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil, and balsamic reduction. However, in this mouthwatering variation, all the ingredients come together with tender cooked pasta to create the ultimate Italian-inspired pasta salad!
Yet, not only is this caprese pasta salad incredibly good, but it’s also remarkably easy to make! So don’t let the idea of balsamic reduction intimidate you. Nowadays, you can easily find this tangy sweet glaze sold in most grocery stores or make your own in a matter of minutes.
Why You’ll Love This Caprese Pasta Salad
- Tasty Caprese Twist! Made with fresh mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, aromatic basil, and tangy balsamic glaze, this dish takes all the essence of a classic caprese salad and tosses it together with tender pasta to create the perfect marriage of flavors.
- Quick and Easy! This simple no-fuss recipe proves that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to make a tasty dish! With less than 10 ingredients, this yummy pasta salad can be whipped together in a mere 20 minutes.
- Crowd Pleaser! Whether you’re looking for a tasty summer side dish to go with all your BBQ favorites, an easy recipe for a potluck, or just a healthy option for a picnic lunch, this vibrant pasta salad is the perfect choice for any occasion.
- Farfalle Pasta – This bowtie-shaped pasta serves as the base of the pasta salad. You can also use other short pasta such as rotini pasta or pasta penne if you prefer.
- Cherry Tomatoes – They add a lovely burst of freshness to the dish, grape tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes are another option.
- Bocconcini – I used pearl bocconcini, which is literally just small fresh mozzarella balls! However, you can also use cubed mozzarella.
- Basil – Fresh basil makes this pasta salad! In a pinch, you can use dried basil but nothing lives up to aromatic fresh basil leaves.
- Balsamic Glaze – The star of the dressing, you can now find balsamic glaze sold in almost any grocery store! Or, you can make your own balsamic glaze with some balsamic vinegar.
- Olive Oil – Use rich and flavorful extra-virgin olive oil for the most authentic Italian flavor.
- Garlic – Brings a subtle bit of garlicky goodness to the dressing. But be sure to use freshly minced garlic cloves for the most depth.
- Salt and Pepper– Needed to season the dish and elevate the taste of the salad.
This recipe is as easy as can be! Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen or a cooking novice, you can whip up this yummy dish in no time with just a handful of ingredients!
Step one is to start making pasta! So bring a large pot of water with a tbsp of salt to a rolling boil. Next, add the farfalle pasta and cook it according to the package instructions or until it reaches al dente. Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander and then rinse it under cold running water to stop it from continuing to cook. Then set the pasta aside.
While the pasta is cooking, you can make the dressing! All you have to do is whisk the olive oil, balsamic glaze, and minced garlic together in a small bowl. Or, you can put all the dressing ingredients into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and then shake it vigorously. Then season the balsamic vinaigrette to your taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
After you have cooked and cooled down the pasta, put it in a large bowl along with the cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Now, pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and gently toss everything together until all the ingredients are evenly coated. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the pasta salad in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
When you’re ready to serve, gently toss the caprese pasta salad to mix everything up again. Then give it a taste and season it with more salt and black pepper if needed. Finally, serve your pasta salad with one last drizzle of balsamic reduction and some more fresh basil leaves if you like!
The secret to a remarkable Caprese Pasta Salad lies in the quality of the balsamic glaze. A top-notch glaze, which should be thick, syrupy, and balanced in sweetness and acidity, can enhance your salad significantly. Always opt for an authentic balsamic glaze, made from aged grape must, over those sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, to achieve a rich, nuanced flavor. Remember, its robust flavor should complement, not dominate, the fresh ingredients of your salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
What other types of pasta can I use?
You can use any shape of bite-size regular or gluten-free pasta you like! It’s totally up to you.
Can I add additional ingredients to the pasta salad?
Yes! Feel free to customize the recipe by adding other ingredients. Some good options include grilled chicken, kalamata olives, pinenuts, or even a handful of fresh arugula! Keep in mind, depending on how much you add you may need to make extra salad dressing.
Can I make this salad in advance?
Yes! It can be made the day before. Simply store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container and give it a gentle toss before serving to redistribute the dressing.
- Use quality ingredients. Use the freshest and highest-quality ingredients available for the best results. Fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil, and extra virgin olive oil will make a noticeable difference in taste.
- Salt your pasta water. And use a lot of it! You want the pasta to absorb some of the salt as it cooks to prevent it from being bland.
- Rinse the cooked pasta. Cook the pasta until it is al dente and then immediately rinse it in cold water to stop the cooking process. This helps to prevent the pasta from becoming a mushy texture.
- Chill the salad. The pasta salad needs to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving to give the flavors time to fully develop.
- Add another layer of flavor. Add a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese or a drizzle of basil pesto just before serving for an extra burst of flavor.
Leftover caprese pasta salad will keep in the fridge for up to 6 days in an airtight container. In fact, it’s often even better the next day, which means it’s also a great make-ahead recipe!
Other Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- Antipasto Salad
- Taco Pasta Salad
- Dive Into Summer With These 10 Refreshing Pasta Salads
- 12 ounces farfalle pasta (or other small shaped pasta like penne or rotini)
- 1½ cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 8 ounces bocconcini (or mozzarella cubed)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (or balsamic reduction)
- ⅓ cup olive oil (extra virgin)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to cool it down and stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic glaze or reduction and minced garlic. Season the dressing with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled pasta, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and toss gently to combine all the ingredients. Make sure the pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil are evenly coated with the dressing.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Before serving, give the salad a gentle stir and taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. You can also add more fresh basil or a drizzle of balsamic glaze on top for additional flavor.
- Choose your pasta: This recipe calls for farfalle, but penne or rotini work great too. Remember, cook the pasta to al dente for the perfect bite.
- Select a high-quality balsamic glaze: A great balsamic glaze can really make your salad shine. Look for an authentic, well-balanced glaze for the best results.
- Fresh is best: Use the freshest mozzarella and basil you can find. Fresh ingredients significantly enhance the flavor of this salad.
- Season to taste: Don’t forget to adjust the salt and pepper to your preference before serving. Everyone’s taste differs, and what’s perfect for one might not be for another.
- Plan ahead: This salad tastes best after it’s had time to chill and let the flavors meld together. Make sure to account for at least 30 minutes of refrigeration before serving.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.