This Caprese pasta salad is a delicious addition to your summer potlucks! This recipe echos a traditional Caprese salad, with lots of fresh, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. I’ve added an olive oil based dressing with garlic, a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and toasted pine nuts for a twist on a classic Italian salad. This simple salad is idea for a light lunch or side dish, (This recipe was published on July 3, 2012 and has been updated to contain nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
This is a riff on summer pasta sauce was I put it on everything! It’s delicious on this Gorgonzola Ravioli too. But I need a chilled version for the summer. This summer pasta salad is perfect for picnics, potlucks and BBQs and is perfect in a lunch box!
What makes a Caprese Salad authentic?
An authentic Caprese salad comes from the Island of Capri. It consists of local tomatoes which come from just across the gulf in Naples in Campania. You’ll find the most flavorful tomatoes in this region of Italy, like the world famous San Marzano tomatoes. Tomatoes are layered with fresh basil and mozzarella di bufala. Here’s what you won’t find in a traditional Caprese salad is balsamic vinegar. For the authentic version try this Caprese salad and find out WHY Balsamic dressing isn’t used on a classic Caprese salad.
What’s in this summer pasta salad?
- A pound of your favorite pasta; bow-tie, penne, or fusilli.
- marinated mini mozzarella balls. I love the the ones from either Trader Joe’s or Costco.
- tomatoes, either cherry or regular tomatoes diced,
- fresh basil,
- parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- toasted pine nuts (optional)
How to make this recipe
Cook and chill pasta. While pasta is cooking, make the pasta sauce. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper.
Then toss the “sauce” with the chilled pasta. Carefully toss in the mozzarella balls. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve. Serve it in this Italian pasta serving dish.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1 pound pasta penne, fusilli, farfalle,
- 12 ounces tomatoes cherry, heirloom, or garden, halved or diced
- 1/4 cup pinenuts toasted
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup basil leaves cut chiffonade
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 8 ounces mini mozzarella balls Marinated, cut in half if desired
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- In a large bowl add tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Let it sit on the counter until the pasta is done.
- Meanwhile boil pasta in salted water. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and cool pasta about 30 minutes. Toss gently with sauce and mozzarella balls.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to sere.
- If you can't find mini mozzarella balls, substitute the same amount of mozzarella and cut into cubes.
- If pine nuts are too expensive, omit them.