Get ready to make this amazing cold summer pasta salad in no time at all, Easy Caprese Pasta Salad! This no cooking required summer meal uses a homemade balsamic dressing, mozzarella balls, and cherry tomatoes to make a great side or main dish.
This side dish or main meal completes a summer bbq, or a lazy afternoon lunch. It's great for your next Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Labor day weekend.
I first had this at Jason's Deli and knew I had to recreate it. This balsamic dressing-flavored dish is so simple, so fresh, and delicious.
Check out our list of ingredients for additional tips and substitutions. This recipe uses fresh ingredients that can be found at most grocery stores.
- Bow Tie Noodles
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Mozzarella Pearls
- Fresh Basil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Table Salt
- Black Pepper
- Minced Garlic
See recipe card for quantities.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Boil the bow tie noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool. You want the noodles to be completely cooled before assembling the salad so they don't melt the cheese.
2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half or in thirds depending on the size of your tomatoes.
3. Chop fresh basil into small pieces. A little fresh basil goes a long way so it's ok to have small pieces.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and minced garlic.
5. After the noodles are cool, add the mozzarella balls, chopped cherry tomatoes and basil.
6. Mix the ingredients together until they are evenly distributed.
7. Toss with the homemade balsamic vinegar dressing and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Hint: In a time pinch? Help cool the noodles faster by draining them and then running cold water through the colander.
For best taste, make sure to add dressing right before serving. The noodles will soak the dressing up after it has sat for some time and the flavor will not be as strong.
- Gluten Free - instead of regular noodles, use gluten free noodles to make this fit in a gluten free diet.
- Tortellini - make this a more filling meal by using cheese tortellini. Use the mozzarella pearls as usual or cut back to account for the cheese in the tortellini.
- Pasta- don't have bow tie noodles on hand, feel free to substitute for your favorite noodles like rotini, elbow, shell, penne, or even orzo all at 1:1 ratio.
- White Balsamic- regular balsamic discolors the cheese and noodles. If you don't want this discoloration, use white balsamic instead of traditional.
- Zucchini Noodles- Make this the ultimate vegetarian pasta salad by using zucchini noodles at a 1:1 ratio.
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes to add a kick to this flavorful salad.
- Artichoke Hearts - add sliced marinated artichoke hearts for extra flavor. Add ⅓ cup.
- Italian Dressing - Don't like balsamic or don't have it on hand? Use Italian dressing instead, the flavor will be altered from traditional Caprese Pasta Salad but will still taste great.
- Protein- Need some extra protein added in? Add grilled chicken to the top of individual bowls or add sliced Prosciutto while mixing in the ingredients.
- Extra Greens- Try adding a cup of arugula or spinach for a leafy green addition.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes - For a more sun kissed flavor, instead of cherry tomatoes, use sun dried tomatoes.
- Mixing Bowl
- Cutting Board
- Medium Pot
- Serving/Mixing Spoon
Store leftover salad in an air tight container, or covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
If waiting to serve, store the dressing and noodle mixture separate. Mix together when ready to serve.
This recipe does not freeze well.
Have a favorite balsamic vinaigrette? Use that in place of making your own dressing. But we highly recommend the Balsamic dressing!
Wait to put the dressing on right before serving. This way the vegetables maintain their freshness and the noodles don't soak up too much of the dressing beforehand.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 2 cups cooked bow tie pasta
- 1 cup mozzarella pearls 8 ounces
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh basil chopped
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic one clove
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, mozzarella pearls, chopped cherry tomatoes, and fresh chopped basil. Add salt and pepper and toss all together.
- In a small bowl combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and minced garlic. Mix well.
- Pour vinegar and oil mixture over the pasta mixture and toss.
- Serve immediately.
- Pasta and mozzarella will become discolored when dressing is added. This is normal.
- Best fresh. If not serving the same day, wait to put dressing on until the time of serving.
- Store pasta salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.