One of my favorite easy meals is this super simple Caprese pasta salad! It's light, fresh, and comes together in just 10 minutes! With creamy mozzarella, fresh basil, and sweet cherry tomatoes it's the perfect summer lunch!
Why This Recipe Works
The best thing about this Caprese pasta salad is how versatile it is! You can keep it super simple with just olive oil or dress it up with any number of toppings!
I love adding my creamy basil pesto or grilled chicken for a more robust meal!
You just need 5 basic ingredients to make this simple pasta salad! But I recommend also making a simple balsamic glaze!
- Short pasta - Such as farfalle, cavatappi, spiral, shell, penne, etc.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes - If I can find them, I like to use heirloom cherry tomatoes because they have the best flavor in my opinion. But any cherry or grape tomato will do!
- Mozzarella balls - I love using ciliengine or mozzarella pearls, but if you can't find either you can just use a large mozzarella ball and cut it into chunks.
- Fresh basil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional Balsamic Glaze
Making balsamic glaze is a whole lot easier than it sounds! All you have to do is add balsamic vinigar to a pot, and let it simmer until it reduces by about half! That's it!
But if you're feeling lazy (like I often am), you can buy bottled balsamic glaze online and at most grocery stores!
Pasta Salad Tips
My number one tip for perfect Caprese pasta salad is to cook the pasta al dente and then rinse it!! For pasta salad the last thing you want is sticky, overcooked pasta. I always cook my pasta 1-2 minutes less than what the package directions call for. Then after draining the pasta, rinse for just a minute or so with cold water.
Caprese is a super simple Italian salad made of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and sometimes balsamic vinegar. It originated in Capri, Italy.
Yes! It is best served cold.
Store the pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like!
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Caprese Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces short pasta
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls, Ciliegine
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- Bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes or until it reduces by about half and easily coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reduce the cooking time by 1-2 minutes for perfect al dente pasta. Drain and then rinse for 1 minute with cold water. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes in half, and add to a large bowl.
- Add the cooled pasta, basil, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to the bowl and toss gently until combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with balsamic glaze if desired.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.