Caprese Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote
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posted: 06/02/20

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This simple Caprese Pasta Salad is four ingredients plus a homemade balsamic dressing. It is perfect for family gatherings or picnics!

overhead view of a large bowl full of pearl mozzarella, pasta, fresh shredded basil, and quartered cherry tomatoes covered in balsamic dressing

The flavors of a Caprese Salad – fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes – are some of my favorite. It’s all so simple, but so delicious.

In this Caprese Pasta Salad we easily pull those flavors together and then toss it with a homemade balsamic dressing for a delicious and easy pasta salad that everyone will love.

This pasta salad recipe is a great potluck dish, but can be cut in half to make a great side dish for family dinners. The leftovers are delicious and perfect to bring to work the next day.

CAPRESE PASTA SALAD INGREDIENTS

For this recipe we need four main ingredients:

  • Pasta
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Pearl Mozzarella
  • Fresh Basil

To that we add a great balsamic dressing. Below I give you instructions for how to make it homemade. It is very simple. But I am also going to give you the amount you need so that you could use your favorite store-bought brand.

overhead view of large bowl of pasta with quartered cherry tomatoes, shredded basil, and pearl mozzarella

MAKING PASTA FOR PASTA SALAD

I’m obsessed with pasta salads, but since the base is the noodle itself, it’s important we cook it properly. Here are a few tips to make sure that happens:

  • Make sure to add enough water. You want there to be a LOT of room for that pasta to grow. It shouldn’t stick out of the water at the end. You need at least 4 quarts of water for a pound of pasta.
  • Bring your water to a roaring boil. Before you add any pasta, you want to see BIG bubbles. Turn the heat on high and cover your pot to make this happen faster.
  • Add salt to the water after you add the noodles. You don’t need to measure it, but add a generous pinch – about 1 to 2 teaspoons for a full pound of pasta.
  • Cook the pasta according to the time on the package. If there is a range given. Test the pasta at the bottom end of the range. It should still have a bite to it. If it is gummy, you cooked too long.
  • Drain the pasta and then rinse with water. We want to stop the cooking process. Additionally, this is a cold pasta salad, so we don’t need our noodles to stay warm.
side view of balsamic dressing being poured over pearl mozzarella, pasta, shredded basil and quartered cherry tomatoes

CAN THIS BE MADE THE DAY BEFORE

I hate to say this, but I would not recommend making this recipe the day before. The noodles absorb a lot of the dressing overnight, and I didn’t care for the results.

You can make the salad dressing the night before and cook the noodles! This will save you time the next day as you try to wrangle three kids before you head out the door to a family BBQ.

overhead view of large bowl full of caprese pasta salad, garnished with fresh basil leaves

STORING LEFTOVERS

If there are left overs of this pasta salad, I recommend tossing them with a bit more balsamic dressing before serving. You can use store bought or you can make another round of this recipe, saving the extra for salads.

Leftovers of this recipe should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be kept for up to three days.

I would not recommend freezing this recipe.

small white bowl full of caprese pasta salad with a fork digging into the middle

OTHER GREAT PASTA SALADS

As I mentioned, I’m pasta salad obsessed and think you should try all of the following.

If you try my Caprese Pasta Salad recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

overhead view of a large bowl full of pearl mozzarella, pasta, fresh shredded basil, and quartered cherry tomatoes covered in balsamic dressing
5 from 1 vote

Caprese Pasta Salad

Serves: 12 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
This simple Caprese Pasta Salad is four ingredients plus a homemade balsamic dressing. It is perfect for family gatherings or picnics!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta I used Radiatori
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut small (a 10.5 ounce container)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil shredded

Dressing (or about 1 cup store bought Balsamic Dressing)

  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, adding salt to the water.  Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process and cool the noodles.
  • In a large bowl combine the noodles, mozzarella pearls, tomatoes and basil.
  • In a small measuring cup, whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing. Pour over the pasta salad and toss to combine.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Serving: 1cup Calories: 311kcal (16%) Carbohydrates: 31g (10%) Protein: 8g (16%) Fat: 17g (26%) Saturated Fat: 4g (25%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g Monounsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 1mg Sodium: 233mg (10%) Potassium: 157mg (4%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 3g (3%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
overhead view of a large bowl full of pearl mozzarella, pasta, fresh shredded basil, and quartered cherry tomatoes covered in balsamic dressing

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Caprese Pasta Salad

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Ron Alphin says

    OK…….I DO HATE to criticize here. But……. that’s about 25% as much basil as there should be, and WAY too much vinegar. Consider adding olive oil as well. Have you ever been to Italy? You could almost make an entire salad from the basil they use on a Caprese salad. Sorry.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Ron! I have been to Italy, this amazing little town in the south and wouldn’t you know the very first thing I ate was a Caprese Salad. You are right! This has a lot less basil and doesn’t have the balsamic reduction one often finds on a Caprese salad. But, it is a Caprese Pasta Salad. And the amazing balsamic dressing on it (made with olive oil) is meant to be a dressing for a pasta salad. Whew. Good thing I didn’t name it Super Traditional Italian Caprese Salad. I really dodged a bullet. I encourage you to give this recipe a try.

  2. Colette says

    5 stars
    I made this today for a very small family gathering today and everyone loved it! I didn’t really measure the basil, just grabbed some from my garden, but I bet it wasn’t a lot since that was my intent. My in-laws can be a little bit picky about flavors and plus I have a toddler (this and strawberries were all he did eat). The dressing was really the best part IMHO. It was a nice change from the regularpasta salad that we are used to, so thank you for the recipe!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Colette, I’m so happy you liked it! I loved the dressing on it the most too! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and let me know.

  3. Cheryl says

    In step 2 shouldn’t the mozzarella pearls be added?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Good catch, thank you!

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