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Caprese Pasta Salad

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close up overhead shot of Caprese pasta salad topped with balsamic glaze and basil in a bowl
Enjoy all of the freshness of summer with our simple Caprese pasta salad. This easy recipe will come together quickly for your next summer BBQ.
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Our Caprese Pasta Salad is so colorful and summery. With Italian-inspired ingredients such as juicy tomatoes, sweet basil leaves, and rich mozzarella cheese mixed with tender rotini and balsamic vinaigrette, you cannot go wrong with this salad.

We can help you with lots of different pasta salad recipes. Try our Italian pasta salad, dill pickle pasta salad, and Greek salad for solid choices.


MORE PASTA SALAD RECIPES:
BLT Pasta Salad | Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad


CAPRESE PASTA SALAD INGREDIENTS

You will need:

For the Pasta Salad

  • 1 (12-ounce) box bow-tie pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 2 cups (1½ pints) of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil, chopped and divided

For the Balsamic Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons grated garlic, about 2 cloves
  • 1 (0.6-ounce) packet of Italian season dressing mix

For the Balsamic Glaze (for garnish)

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey

PRO TIP: If you do not want to make your own balsamic dressing, feel free to use your favorite store-bought brand in place of the dressing in this recipe.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

PASTA: Any short pasta would be perfect for this salad. Orzo, penne or rotini pasta would be fantastic choices, or you could go with a heartier pasta such as tortellini.

TOMATOES: If you can’t find grape tomatoes in the grocery store, sweet cherry tomatoes or even heirloom tomatoes sliced in wedges will work equally well in this simple recipe.

MIX-INS: The beauty of a great pasta salad is that there are so many ingredients you can add to the salad. Try red onion, red or green bell pepper or cucumbers as great choices.

MOZZARELLA: Mini mozzarella balls are pretty easy to find, but if you can’t, you can buy a large mozzarella ball and tear it or cut it into smaller pieces.

PROTEIN: Pepperoni, bacon, cooked chicken, or diced ham would also be delicious in this salad.

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HOW TO MAKE THIS CAPRESE PASTA SALAD RECIPE

STEP ONE: In a small bowl (or a pint-size mason jar), combine all the ingredients for the balsamic dressing. Mix well and place in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the rest of the pasta salad.

STEP TWO: Cook pasta in a large pot for 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and place cooked pasta into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

PRO TIP: Al dente is the ideal consistency for pasta. The pasta will be tender and will still have a slightly firm texture when you bite into it.

PRO TIP: Make sure your pasta is fully cooled to room temperature before adding the other ingredients, or your cheese will start to melt. Rinse it with cold water to ensure it is cooled enough and doesn’t stick together.

STEP THREE: In the large bowl, with the cooked pasta, add the halved grape tomatoes, a package of mozzarella pearls, fresh chopped basil (reserving some of the basil for garnish), and ½ cup of the prepared balsamic dressing.

STEP FOUR: Mix all the pasta salad ingredients together, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

STEP FIVE: While the pasta salad is chilling, make the balsamic glaze for the garnish by combining the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture reduces by half. Transfer the balsamic reduction to a glass jar and allow it to cool completely before drizzling it on the pasta salad just prior to serving.

STEP SIX: Garnish the chilled pasta salad with the reserved chopped basil and the balsamic glaze.

HOW TO SERVE

You can serve this pasta dish with grilled chicken breast, grilled tilapia or burgers for a great summertime dinner. Add a Caesar salad and our iced tea, raspberry iced tea, sweet peach iced tea, or our southern strawberry sweet tea on the side, and you have a complete meal.

You can also use any leftover balsamic glaze to top fresh fruit and greek yogurt that is sprinkled with toasted almonds. This makes a delicious snack.

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE: This easy Caprese pasta salad with balsamic glaze can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Store extra balsamic dressing in a lidded jar, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 month and use it as a marinade for chicken or on your favorite mixed greens salad.

IN THE FREEZER: We do not recommend freezing pasta salad.

Fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fragrant fresh basil leaves are featured in this delicious Italian Caprese pasta salad. The amazing flavors mingle together for a light and fresh side dish that is the ideal choice alongside your favorite entrees.

FAQ

Can I make Caprese pasta salad ahead of time?

This is a fabulous natural make-ahead dish as it gives time for all the lovely fresh ingredients to soak up the balsamic dressing. We wouldn’t recommend making it more than a day ahead, though.

Should I serve Caprese Pasta salad hot or cold?

This easy pasta salad should be served cold.

Where can I buy mozzarella pearls? 

Most grocery stores sell mozzarella pearls (or mini mozzarella balls) in the deli section. If you can’t find them, you can buy a fresh mozzarella ball and cut it into small pieces.

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close up overhead shot of Caprese pasta salad topped with balsamic glaze and basil in a bowl

Caprese Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote
Enjoy all of the freshness of summer with our simple Caprese pasta salad. This easy recipe will come together quickly for your next summer BBQ.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Pasta Salad

  • 12 ounces Bow-tie pasta cooked and drained
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes cut in half (1 ½ pints)
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil chopped and divided

Balsamic Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons garlic grated (about 2 cloves)
  • 0.6 ounce Italian season dressing mix

Balsamic Glaze (for garnish)

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Instructions
 

  • In a small mixing bowl or a pint-size mason jar, combine all the ingredients for the balsamic dressing. Mix well and place in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the rest of the pasta salad.
  • Cook pasta for 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and place cooked pasta into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • In the large mixing bowl with the cooked pasta, add the halved grape tomatoes, a package of mozzarella pearls, fresh chopped basil (reserving some of the basil for garnish), and ½ cup of the prepared balsamic dressing.
  • Mix all the pasta salad ingredients together, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • While the pasta salad is chilling, make the balsamic glaze for the garnish by combining the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture reduces by half. Transfer the glaze to a glass jar and allow it to cool completely before drizzling it on the pasta salad just prior to serving.
  • Garnish the chilled pasta salad with the reserved chopped basil and the balsamic glaze.

Nutrition

Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 411mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 555IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 166mg | Iron: 1mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

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