A caprese pasta salad is the perfect summer side. Filled with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and tossed with a balsamic dressing. Simple and easy to make this dish is perfect for large groups and is instantly craveable.
This is one of my favorite pasta salads to make during the summer. It is simple and easy to make and it tastes wonderful. It is packed with fresh ingredients and tossed in a light dressing that isn’t overpowering. The best part about this recipe is that it is done in less than 30 minutes making it a perfect dish when you don’t have a lot of time. Watch this pasta salad disappear right before your eyes at your next gathering.
In this recipe
This recipe makes use of wonderful summer produce as well as very few other ingredients. Simplicity is great for this recipe so you can taste everything.
Balsamic vinegar: you will want to use a good vinegar. Clear is preferable to dark as it will keep the salad from turning brown.
Fresh mozzarella: you can use a large chunk of mozzarella or use ciliegine mozzarella which are the small balls of fresh mozzarella.
Basil: like the caprese salad you want fresh basil for this pasta salad.
Red pepper flakes: will provide a small amount of heat to the pasta salad.
White vs Dark Balsamic
There are a couple of differences between the two types of vinegar however they are made with the same kinds of grapes. The first and most noticeable difference is the color. The white balsamic vinegar is pressure cooked instead of simmering which prevents the caramelization of the grapes. The darker version is simmered until reduced. Another difference is the time it is aged. White balsamic is aged no more than 12 years where as dark balsamic is aged for more than 12 years. Lastly it has a milder and less sweet taste and its lighter color makes it great for dressings without turing them brown.
Al dente is the best
One of the best ways to serve a pasta salad with this pasta al dente which means to the tooth. This will make sure that when you mix the pasta wiht the rest of the ingredients you don’t have mushy pasta and any additional water that the pasta absorbs from the tomatoes also keeps it from getting too soggy. This can be achieved by cooking the pasta a couple of minutes less than what is on the packaging. The best way to tell if the pasta is al dente is to test a noodle and if it is chewy with a little bit of resistance you are good to go.
Making caprese pasta salad
Once you have all of the ingredients ready you want to make sure that the pasta is cool to the touch. This will help keeping the mozzarella from melting and the basil from turning brown. Add the dressing over the top and gently toss to evenly distribute the dressing over all of the pasta. Add some more fresh basil and red pepper flakes on top and serve it up to your friends and family.
Looking for other pasta recipes?
Caprese Pasta Salad
- Large pot
- Mixing Bowl
- 1 pound pasta such as fusilli, penne, rotini or bow tie
- 16 ounces mozzarella fresh, ciliegine preferred
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup basil fresh, thinly sliced or chiffonade
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar white preferred
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a generous amount of salt and add the pasta, cook to al dente according to the package by reducing the cooking time by two minutes to test. Once ready pour into a colander to drain.
- While the pasta is cooking either slice the ciliegine mozzarella in half or make small cube of mozzarella if you are using a large piece.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and minced garlic together.
- Once the pasta is cool to the touch place in a large mixing bowl. Add the basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Add the dressing and toss until evenly combined. Top with additional basil and red pepper flakes.