Craving pasta, but want a twist? Caprese pesto pasta salad is a simple dish that you can easily elevate to the main course with grilled chicken or salami.
If you love salads with these flavors, you may also enjoy this one made with marinated tomato and olive or our Italian pasta salad.
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Our Caprese pesto pasta salad takes basic pantry staples that are easy to find. Let's talk about some of the key ingredients.
- Pasta: We used dried farfalle which is also called bow tie, but any small pasta would work.
- Vegetables: We used cherry or grape tomatoes that were sliced lengthwise and spring onion.
- Cheese: We used mozzarella pearls.
- Seasonings: We used freshly minced garlic, fresh basil, the juice and zest from a lemon, salt, and black pepper.
- Pesto: We used store-bought pesto, but feel free to make your own.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for Caprese pesto pasta salad. Start by mincing the garlic, then zesting and juicing a lemon. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise, and measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, capers, garlic, and green onion to make a marinade.
- Put the mozzarella pearls and the tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top.
3. Stir until combined, then let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. You'll taste the difference a marinade can make--especially if you are eating this right after making it.
4. While you're prepping the other ingredients, cook the pasta to al dente, then run it under cold water. Drain well and mix in some olive oil to prevent it from sticking.
5. Next, add the pesto and the white balsamic vinegar. Trust me, you'll want to have extra vinegar on hand because it soaks it up like a sponge!
6. Add the marinated tomatoes and mozzarella and stir until combined. Cover and chill in the fridge. If you are in a hurry, skip the chilling part.
7. Before serving, cut up the basil and stir it into the bowl. Taste it and adjust seasonings, adding a sprinkle of salt and black pepper if desired.
It will absorb the marinade and vinegar as it cools, so you'll want to add more white balsamic vinegar and possibly a little more oil or lemon juice before serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of lemon zest and some more basil.
8. Enjoy this Caprese pesto pasta salad. Why not make it tonight?
Yes, you certainly can. This Caprese dish actually tastes best if it has time to chill in the fridge. Here are some tips on what to do if you want to make it the night before. First, rinse and slice the tomatoes, separate the mozzarella pearls, and zest the lemon. Place each ingredient in its own bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Next, shake up the marinade for the tomatoes and mozzarella in a mason jar. Also, you can cook the pasta, add olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, then add the pesto. Stir, cover, and chill overnight.
Before serving you can finish up the dish. Fifteen minutes before serving, marinate the tomatoes and mozzarella. Give them a taste and adjust the seasonings. Chiffonade the basil then stir it in. Garnish the top with lemon zest.
Our version of Caprese with pasta and pesto contains 226 calories and 20g of carbs for a ½ cup serving. The tomatoes provide a healthy source of vitamin C and vitamin A and the olive oil is a heart-healthy fat. For more nutritional information, scroll past the recipe card.
Caprese pesto pasta salad makes a great addition to just about any grilled or broiled meats. It works great for groups so it's perfect for picnics and BBQs.
Caprese salad is a combination of the cooked pasta with the traditional ingredients of a Caprese salad: tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. We add a unique flavor to our version by adding pesto for a more intense basil flavor and a few additional ingredients to round out all the flavors.
- Want to add meat to your Caprese? Try grilled chicken or salami.
- Don't like the look of farfalle? Swap it out with rotini, orecchiette or cellentani, but choose noodles that will hold the pesto dressing.
- Want to add more vegetables? How about avocado, artichoke hearts, or red onion?
- Need to make it healthier? Use light olive oil and whole wheat organic.
- Make it heartier by adding grilled chicken, salami, marinated artichoke hearts, or sliced avocado.
More Salads You'll Love
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Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
For the Salad
- 1 pound dried farfalle pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 18 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- 8 ounce package of mozzarella pearls
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon spring onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon capers, chopped
- 1 cup basil pesto
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- sprinkle of salt and black pepper
- ¼ cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil
- Make the marinade by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, capers, and green onion. Toss it with the sliced tomatoes and mozzarella pearls, then let it marinade for 15 minutes.
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package. Rinse with cold water. Drain and stir in a little olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking.
- Pour it into a large bowl and mix in the pesto and white balsamic vinegar. Gently stir in the marinated tomatoes and mozzarella pearls, then cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
- Cut the basil by stacking the leaves, rolling it into a log, and slicing it with a sharp knife. Separate the ribbons with your fingers, then stir the ribbons into the salad.
- Taste the salad and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle in additional salt and black pepper, vinegar, oil, or lemon juice as desired. The pasta will absorb a lot of the dressing as it cools.
- Garnish with lemon zest and fresh basil. Serve cold.
- Make this salad heartier by adding grilled chicken, salami, marinated artichoke hearts, or sliced avocado.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
This sounds amazing. Can this be made ahead?
Yes, this salad can be made ahead. However, I'd recommend marinating the tomatoes separately in a little of the dressing and adding them right before serving, as they can get mushy if they sit in the dressing overnight. Enjoy!
I adore pasta salads, and this one tops them all. The pasta is soft tender, the mozzarella pearls are soft, the cherry tomatoes are little bursts of coolness, and the dressing beats all. Thank you for this awesome salad.
I'm so glad that you liked this pasta salad, Beth! Mom did a great job with this recipe.