This Caprese Pasta Salad is a simple Meatless Monday recipe, perfect for the warm spring and summer months ahead. Filled with fresh seasonal produce – most of which can be found in your very own edible garden – this refreshing dish is can be served as a main dish or as a side dish. Apart from being delicious and light, this pasta salad is also a greener choice for your family as it is meatless, seasonal and organic!
This Caprese Pasta Salad Will Be A New Favorite!
Why is it called Caprese Pasta Salad?
I based this recipe on the famous Caprese salads common in Italy. That dish is thought to have been created on the island of Capri, hence its name. Like all Italian foods, it has a beautiful simplicity because they believe in using the finest quality regional ingredients where the flavors of the fresh foods shine through as the stars.
The Caprese salad features slices of fresh vine ripened tomatoes with fresh picked basil leaves layered with fresh mozzarella drizzled with locally grown olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and your tastebuds will water with anticipation. I took all those amazing flavors and mixed them with may favorite comfort food of all time- pasta- for a pasta salad that gets the chef’s kiss!
I love how you get all the good things in one pretty healthy dish! You get the health benefits of fresh produce, the protein from fresh mozzarella, and some carbs from the pasta.
Is Caprese Pasta Salad served room temperature or cold?
As you prefer. You can serve the Caprese pasta salad as soon as it is done but I would suggest letting it marinate all together in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to fully come together. When I make this recipe in the summer, I usually served it cold so I make it ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge until we are ready to eat.
If you want it cold, it is a make ahead of time dish. If you want it room temperature, you can just whip it up on the spot.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
Caprese Pasta Salad Ingredients
- 1 pound of pasta (I used cavatappi for these photos but sometimes I use penne or rotini)
- 2 cups of organic grape or cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups of fresh small mozzarella cheese balls (perlini or ciliegine)
- 1 cup of fresh basil leaves (washed, dried, and chopped)
- ¼ cup virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste (about 1/2 tsp each)
How To Make Caprese Pasta Salad
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Place pasta into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with a spoon to coat evenly and keep from sticking.
Chop cherry tomatoes in half. If using ciliegine mozzarella balls, chop in half as well. Add tomatoes with juices, mozzarella and basil to pasta. Toss to mix and place in refrigerator to cool.
To prepare your Caprese pasta salad dressing:
Mix together olive oil and vinegar. Squeeze the freshly-peeled garlic cloves through a garlic press into the mixture and add salt and pepper, to taste (I used about ½ teaspoon of each). You can stir all ingredients together in a bowl or I always use a small mason jar to shake well when I first make it and again, just before pouring it over the other pasta salad ingredients.
Pour dressing over pasta salad just before you are ready to serve it. Toss and enjoy!
You can really use any of the various types of fresh mozzarella as long as you chop them down into small bite size pieces.
You could use a store bought Italian dressing instead of the simple homemade Caprese pasta salad dressing recipe I provided but I think you’d be losing out on flavor big time. You can’t replace the presence of a good virgin olive oil and store bought dressing usually use cheap quality oils.
Cellentani Vs Cavatappi Vs Corksrew Pasta: Same pasta by different names depending on the brand. Cavatappi is literally Italian for corkscrew.
Printable Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
You are going to love the slightly acidic sour notes from the tomatoes with the rich creamy notes from the fresh mozzarella while the herbaceous basil shines through. A really good quality virgin oil is the perfect lingering note in your palate. Yum!
Have you tried incorporating Meatless Mondays into your weekly meal plan? What are some of your favorite meatless pasta dishes?