We took some of our favorite things about summer and combined them into one easy and mouthwatering Caprese Pasta Salad. Easy to make and versatile, it’s your new summer BBQ side dish go-to.
Summer is here and that means it is Caprese season AND pasta salad season. I’m always a sucker for a good Caprese salad.
What better side dish could there be than combining the best of summer in one tasty Caprese Pasta Salad recipe! This mouthwatering salad filled with tomatoes from the garden, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil will be a hit every single time.
- Pasta - pick your favorite shape, just make sure it has curves or ridges to grab the dressing.
- Tomatoes – a summer essential. There’s nothing better than a garden fresh tomato!
- Fresh basil - fragrant and full of flavor, don’t skimp on this essential ingredient.
- Fresh mozzarella - use the “pearls” that are readily available or buy a ball and dice it.
- Vinaigrette - homemade dressing is a snap to make, but feel free to swap in your favorite store bought dressing for a quick time saver.
Best Salad Dressing
The key to a fabulous pasta salad? The dressing!
Caprese and balsamic vinegar are a match made in heaven. This easy vinaigrette made with pantry ingredients will quickly become a staple in your kitchen. This dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to assemble.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
Pro tips for making the best pasta salads
Follow these tips to get perfect pasta salad every time
- Pasta: All good pasta salads start with pasta that is cooked and seasoned correctly. I've got tips for how to cook pasta for salads below.
- Shapes: Pick a good pasta shape that has ribs on it so the dressing has something to cling to.
- Visual variety: In this salad, I slice tomatoes in half, cube the cheese and julienne the basil.
- Color: People eat with their eyes first so consider having different colors in your salad.
- Seasoning: The best pasta salads are seasoned early and often. This starts with the cooking process and ends with the final toss before serving.
- Mixing: Use a large bowl to evenly coat all of the pasta salad ingredients with the dressing. This ensures every component of the salad is dressed properly.
Quick answer: to season it.
Do you ever wonder why pasta that you eat in a restaurant always tastes better? The answer is simple: it has been seasoned properly. Don’t skimp on the salt in the water because the only time you can season the pasta itself is while it is cooking.
Pro tip: 2 teaspoons of kosher salt may seem like a lot, but the pasta only absorbs a fraction of it. So please don’t skip this step. No one likes bland pasta.
Yes you can, but wait to add the fresh tomatoes and basil until right before serving to keep the integrity of the tomato and the basil bright green.
Simply swap in your favorite gluten free pasta shape and make the recipe as directed.
What to serve with caprese pasta salad
This pasta salad can be served with pretty much any protein. We avoid turning our oven on at all costs and fire up the grill. Here are some of our favorite summer go-tos:
- Guinness Burgers - Don’t settle for a plain burger, these burgers are amazing and will have everyone wondering what the secret ingredient is that makes them SO juicy.
- How to Grill a Whole Chicken - Grilling a whole chicken is easy when you follow our simple steps!
- Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers - Marinating is the key to juicy chicken. Whether it’s a quick spin for 30 minutes or a full 24 hours, every minute helps.
- Hoisin Grilled Ribs - Finger lickin’ ribs are a mainstay of summer and these flavor packed ribs are no exception.
- 8 ounces Rotini Pasta
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (for pasta water)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
- ½ cup Fresh Basil, julienned
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Balsamic Dressing
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water and add 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
- Bring to a boil, add pasta and cook al dente according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking combine all ingredients for dressing in a mason jar and shake vigorously to combine.
- Drain and rinse pasta with cold water.
- In a large mixing bowl add pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and Balsamic dressing and stir until well coated with dressing.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add fresh basil, stir and serve.
Dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in refrigerator until ready to use.
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Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 226Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 867mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g
This Caprese Pasta Salad, filled with garden fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fragrant basil all tossed together in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, makes a perfect summer side dish.