Pesto Caprese pasta salad is so quick and easy to make you will be serving it all summer!
Why You’ll Love This
This Caprese pasta salad is made easy with small pasta, pearl mozzarella balls, fresh grape tomatoes, and flavorful basil pesto.
Pasta salads make great sides but add in some grilled chicken or shrimp and you have a full meal.
This pesto pasta salad is also great to take to barbecues, potlucks, and family gatherings!
It’s great to serve a crowd or you can cut the recipe in half for serving your family.
Caprese salad is a basic salad made with tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. So why not add some pasta to make it even better?
- Short pasta – Any short pasta will work. You can use farfalle, orichette, penne, or elbow pasta.
- Mozzarella Pearls – Also known as Bocconcini or Ciliegine. You can also cut a larger piece of fresh mozzarella into tiny bite-size pieces.
- Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes.
- Fresh basil
- Prepared pesto – Homemade is great, but we use jarred pesto to keep this simple and easy.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar – This will turn the pasta dark, if you don’t like that use white balsamic vinegar.
- Garlic, salt, and pepper.
Tips and Variations
- Season the pasta water well. You want to season your pasta. The water should taste like saltwater.
- For the best texture in this pasta Caprese salad cook the pasta al dente.
- Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- Toss in some cooked chicken to bump up the protein.
- Add some pine nuts for a little nutty flavor.
- Make it a gluten-free pasta salad by using your favorite gluten free pasta.
How to Make Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad
Bring water to a boil in a large pot, and salt the water generously. Cook the pasta according to the instructions for al dente.
Drain and lightly rinse in cold water. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and set it aside to cool.
While the pasta is cooling slice the tomatoes in half. Drain the pearl mozzarella if necessary.
Once the pasta is cooled add the mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and the thinly sliced fresh basil.
In a measuring cup add the pesto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper. Whisk to combine.
Drizzle the dressing over the pasta and toss gently to coat. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Serve immediately. This Caprese pasta salad with pesto can be served at room temperature or cold. Serve as a side dish or serve as a meal along with some bread and maybe a tossed green salad.
Yes. Drizzle 1/2 of the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store both the salad and reserved dressing until ready to serve. When ready to serve drizzle the remaining dressing, toss to coat again, and taste for seasoning.
Store leftover pesto Caprese pasta salad in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezing this pasta salad is possible but I don’t recommend it. The tomatoes will become weepy, and the pasta will likely come out mushy.
More Salad Recipes
Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 lb Farfalle pasta or Orichette, penne, elbow pasta
- 16 oz Pearl mozzarella (small balls)
- 3 cups Cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1/4 cup Fresh basil thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup Pesto
- 1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove Garlic minced
- 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot, salt the water generously. Cook the pasta according to the instructions for al dente. Drain and lightly rinse in cold water. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and set it aside to cool.
- While the pasta is cooling slice the tomatoes in half. Drain the pearl mozzarella if necessary. Slice the basil into thin strips.
- Once the pasta is cooled add the mozzarella, tomatoes, and the thinly sliced fresh basil.
- In a measuring cup add the pesto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing over the pasta and toss gently to coat. Taste for seasoning.
Recipe adapted from foodiecrush