Caprese Pasta Salad is so easy to make and loaded with fresh Mediterranean inspired flavors!
Take a bounty of fresh tomatoes, onion and basil, add bowtie pasta and cheese, then toss with a lemon balsamic vinaigrette to make this unforgettable summer salad! A drizzle of balsamic glaze on top will finish this salad off in style. Add chicken or salmon to create an entree salad, or serve it as a gourmet level side dish with some steaks or marinated chicken kabobs hot off the grill. This recipe is sure to become a family favorite, and it goes with everything!
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What is Caprese Pasta Salad?
- This easy recipe is a cold and refreshing favorite! Prep salad, pasta, and dressing in advance, keep chilled, and mix ingredients together just before serving.
- Healthy ingredients and robust flavors make Caprese salad a winner on any picnic table!
- Caprese pasta salad is a delicious meatless meal or it can be topped with grilled chicken breasts, fish, or shrimp to add extra protein.
What’s in Caprese Pasta Salad?
TOMATOES: Small, colorful grape or cherry tomatoes are what give this salad its unique look! Experiment with red, yellow, orange, green, and even purple tomatoes!
CHEESE: Bocconcini, which are small balls of mozzarella, are used in this recipe. But diced pieces from a large ball of mozzarella will work as well! Crumbled feta and bleu cheese can also be used.
BASIL: For best results, pluck fresh basil from the garden, buy fresh leaves or keep a small living basil plant in a sunny window! Chopped spinach and kale will add color and flavor to this salad! No basil? Whisk a tablespoon of ready-made basil pesto into the vinaigrette.
PASTA: Bow tie pasta is festive and the perfect size and shape for the vinaigrette to cling to! Other good pasta choices are penne, rotini, medium-sized shells, ziti, and even tortellini! For a low-carb salad, leave out the pasta and replace it with lightly steamed cauliflower florets.
How to Make Caprese Pasta Salad
This salad is so easy to make and tastes excellent served with slices of lemon or avocado.
- Cook pasta al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water.
- Add pasta to tomatoes, cheese, onion, and basil.
- Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together, toss with pasta and veggies.
- Garnish if desired.
PRO TIP: Lightly toast pine nuts in a dry sauté pan until they are just fragrant. This intensifies the flavor and makes them extra crunchy!
What to Serve with Caprese Pasta Salad?
Serve this tangy salad with sourdough crackers, some avocado toast, or a thick slice of crusty no-knead bread. Perfect with a tall and refreshing glass of white wine sangria.
Add a bowl of creamy tomato soup, or a delish main dish such as beef kabobs, creamy lemon chicken, smoked brisket, or tasty smoked pulled pork.
Storing Caprese Pasta Salad
Keep leftover Caprese pasta salad in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Stir before serving. Serve on top of lettuce or tuck into a wrap or pita for an energizing lunch! Don’t freeze it since this salad doesn’t thaw well, but it’s so fast and easy to make fresh!
Other Pasta Salad Recipes!
- Orzo Pasta Salad – with a fresh lemon vinaigrette
- Chickpea Pasta Salad – hearty and delicious
- Bow Tie Pesto Pasta Salad – ready in just 30 minutes
- No Cook Tomato Sauce With Pasta – so easy!
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces farfalle pasta (bow tie pasta) or other pasta, about 4 cups
- 2 cups grape tomatoes halved (or cherry tomatoes)
- 1-2 cups bocconcini balls or diced mozzarella cheese, about 7-14 ounces
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- ¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade or sliced thinly, plus extra for garnish
- 2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts optional for garnish
- balsamic glaze for garnish
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed if possible
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente (don’t overcook!). Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
- In a large bowl, add cooled pasta, tomatoes, cheese, onion, and basil.
- In a small bowl (or measuring cup), whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over the salad and toss to combine.
- Drizzle with balsamic glaze, sprinkle with basil and pine nuts if using and serve.
- Nutrition calculated with out balsamic glaze.
- To toast pine nuts:
- add them to a dry pan on medium high heat.
- cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
- remove from the pan immediately.
- To make Caprese Salad ahead of time:
- set aside ¼ of the vinaigrette.
- toss the salad with remaining vinaigrette and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- just before serving, add remaining dressing and toss.
- refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for 2-3 days.
- to refresh leftovers, add a splash of olive oil and vinegar (balsamic or wine vinegar), about 2-3 teaspoons of each, and sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper. Toss.
- it is not recommended to freeze this pasta salad.
- serve leftovers on top of lettuce or tuck into a wrap or pita for a hearty lunch!
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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