Caprese Pasta Salad - the classic Caprese ingredients of tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil combined with pasta. Serve as a weekday lunch or as a summer side dish.
Caprese Salad is a summer favorite in our house. The tomatoes are sweet, the basil is fresh and fragrant, and the mozzarella is creamy and delicious. I love Caprese salad as a light lunch but it works equally well as a salad or side dish for dinner. And, Caprese couldn't be easier to pull together.
The addition of pasta turns this salad into a meal by itself. It's quick and easy and ideal when it's too hot to turn on the oven. This dish is also great as a side dish for a picnic or barbeque. The pasta is tossed in pesto which adds another punch of flavor and pairs perfectly with the Caprese ingredients.
Caprese Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Tomatoes: I like using a medley of grape or cherry tomatoes. A variety of colors is pretty too!
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella is a must in Caprese. I prefer the mini balls of mozzarella - just drain and add.
- Basil: Lots and lots of fresh basil! Slice the basil into long thin strips (chiffonade) before adding to the salad.
- Pasta: I love using Orecchiette which looks like little ears. The Orecchiette holds the pesto and is curved so that it nestles among the tomatoes and mozzarella balls perfectly!
- Pesto: The basil pesto coats the pasta and brings even more basil flavor.
Serving Caprese Pasta Salad
Caprese Pasta Salad can be served hot or cold. I prefer this as a cold salad, but you can also serve this hot as a main dish.
- To serve hot: Toss the hot, drained pasta with the pesto. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Stir and serve.
- To serve cold: Toss the hot, drained pasta with the pesto. Let cool. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Serve or refrigerate. After refrigerating, drizzle with olive oil to loosen the pesto and stir to combine.
Caprese salad is one of my favorite summer dishes, and this pasta version is no different. It is so easy to pull together. The ingredients can all be prepped while the pasta cooks, so this salad can be ready in less than 20 minutes. All the ingredients are so fresh. A great classic combination.
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below and tag me on Instagram @mycasualpantry so I can see your creation.
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Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1 pound Orecchiette pasta
- ¼ cup basil pesto
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls
- 1 cup fresh basil, cut into long thin strips (chiffonade)
- Cook the Orecchiette according to package directions. Drain and return to the hot pot. Add the pesto and toss to combine. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half and add to a mixing bowl. Drain the fresh mozzarella balls and add to the bowl.
- To chiffonade the basil, stack several leaves of basil and roll up. Slice crosswise to create long, thin strips. Add to the bowl of tomatoes and mozzarella.
- To serve the salad warm, add the warm pasta and pesto mixture to the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Toss to combine and serve.
- To serve the salad cold, allow the pasta and pesto mixture to cool before adding to the tomato mixture. Toss and serve or refrigerate. After refrigerating, a drizzle of oil may be needed to loosen the pesto. Toss and serve.