Skip to content

Caprese Pasta Salad with Basil Pesto

With its bright flavors and color, this Caprese Salad will be a hit at any party. It’s super easy to throw together and can be made in advance.

caprese pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl
Caprese Pasta Salad with Pesto is an easy, popular summer dish

Caprese Pasta Salad is like no other pasta salad

Caprese Pasta Salad with Basil Pesto is decidedly different from other pasta salads.  You know:  One of these things is not quite like the other.

That’s because most forms of pasta salads are mixed with some version of creamy-mayo dressing. Or, they usually contain a bottle of store-bought dressing loaded with perplexing ingredients.

But this Caprese Pasta Salad is a naturally refreshing, healthy, and flavorful shift from the norm. No mayo dressing here.

Packed with fresh herbs, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and extra virgin olive oil, we devour this pasta salad up with no guilt whatsoever.  The flavors are bright and delicious…perfect for entire summer.

caprese pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl
Use fresh pearl mozzarella and sweet cherry/grape tomatoes for this caprese salad

Caprese Pasta Salad can be made in advance

I served this Caprese Pasta Salad at a recent baby shower, along with several varieties of finger sandwiches, including this Chopped Egg and Bacon Sandwich.  (By the way, those sandwiches were the first thing to go. Guess nobody can say no to eggs ‘n bacon, not even a crowd of gals.)

This Caprese Pasta Salad went over extremely well, with many compliments on its refreshing flavors.  The marvelous thing about this Caprese Pasta Salad is how easy it is to make, and how incredibly well it keeps — leftovers keep well in an airtight container, chilled in the fridge for 2-3 days.

If you prep the basil pesto 24 hours ahead of time, the bright green may dull somewhat, but the flavors remain just as bright as he day you made it. Pasta and sauce can be prepared and kept in separate containers until ready to toss and serve. Reserve fresh tomatoes and mozzarella for stirring in right before serving.

caprese pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl
Make the most out of summer basil with this caprese pasta salad

Serve caprese pasta salad with these


Common questions and answers

Is Caprese Salad Healthy?

Yes, caprese salad is on the healthier side, as there is no creamy or fatty dressing involved. Our recipe uses only extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you’d like to make it even healthier, decrease the amount of mozzarella.

What do you serve caprese salad with?

We love this caprese pasta salad with grilled meats. See above section for ideas of easy, tasty grilled chicken, salmon, or pork chops.

Can I make caprese salad in advance?

Yes! We recommend keeping the basil pesto in a separate container from the cooked pasta, until ready to toss and serve.

Do leftovers keep well?

One of the best things about this caprese pasta salad is that it keeps extremely well. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for 2-3 days.

Why add parsley to the basil pesto?

Because basil tends to lose its brilliant color in the sauce after 24 hours, parsley helps to retain the color, as well as provide extra flavor.


Try this refreshing chimichurri sauce, too:

Print
caprese pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl

Caprese Pasta Salad

5 from 2 reviews

This Caprese Pasta Salad is simple, full of good nutritious ingredients, and tastes even better than it looks! The flavors meld together into a refreshing and pure pasta salad. It keeps very well chilled in fridge.

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 8 min
  • Total Time: 28 minutes

Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the Basil Pesto: 

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups flat parsley leaves
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 1 lb dry fusilli or rotini pasta
  • 8 oz fresh mini mozzarella balls or “pearl” mozzarella balls, halved
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, seeded and halved

Optional: 1/2 cup chopped green olives with pimientos

Instructions

  1. Basil Pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add more kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Set aside or wrap tightly and chill until ready to use.
  2. Boil Pasta: In a large heavy pot, bring well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta just until al dente, according to instructions, taking care not to cook past that. Drain fully but do not rinse. Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil, tossing so pasta is thinly coated. Let pasta cool to room temperature.
  3. Toss: When ready to serve, toss in the mozzarella halves, tomato halves, and optional olives, if using them. Continue to lightly toss until well combined. Leftovers may be covered and chilled up to 3 days.

Notes

If making this dish in advance, we suggest keeping pasta and sauce in separate containers until ready to toss and serve. Note that the basil pesto may dull somewhat in color after 24 hours, but flavor remains the same.

For gluten-free version, use your favorite gluten-free rotini style pasta.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ♡

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 397
  • Sugar: 4.7 g
  • Sodium: 69.3 mg
  • Fat: 18.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 47.6 g
  • Fiber: 2.8 g
  • Protein: 10.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 1.3 mg
  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Category: side, salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: caprese, caprese salad, pesto, caprese salad with pesto, tomato caprese

Did you make this?

Leave a comment below and tag @chewoutloud on Instagram

Add a comment

Recipe rating

22 comments

    • Marysa

    I love caprese. What a delicious looking salad! Perfect for summer.

      • chewoutloud

      Yes, making the most of summer for sure!

    • Monica Simpson

    I love caprese salad. I have never added pesto to it. It sounds so delicious! I will be trying this for sure.

    • Tara Pittman

    This is a salad that my husband would like. He would love the basil flavor.

    • Danielle

    Yum. This looks so good. I’d love to take it to a cookout.

      • chewoutloud

      Perfect!

    • Sonia Seivwright

    I love pesto pasta, so I’ll definitely try this basil pesto.

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Sonia!

    • Desiree

    Adding this to my list of recipes to try! Looks delish!

    • Charina Rasing

    Nothing could go wrong with basil pesto. I am so in love with it.. This recipe is worth a try.

      • chewoutloud

      So glad you liked it, Charina!

    • Fatima T

    I had no idea about how well a Caprese pasta salad leftovers did in the fridge. I’m always looking for ways to save time on dinner prep

      • chewoutloud

      Saving time is key!

    • Carmen

    I like the idea of pairing this with grilled shrimp or chicken. Thanks for sharing a Pin-worthy recipe!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so welcome, Carmen!

    • Samantha Laycock

    This salad looks incredible and it makes me want summer to stay around forever.

      • chewoutloud

      Love summer!

    • Anasha Khan

    I didn’t realize it was so simple to make basil pesto. I have always purchased my basil pesto from the supermarket. Don’t think I will be doing that anymore:-) I will be trying this Caprese salad over the weekend. Can’t wait!

    • Meredtih Vrobel

    Made this yesterday served same day. Wonderful flavor and colors. Like the flag of Italy!

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, so great to hear it, Meredith! Thanks for taking the time to come over and let us know you liked this 🙂

    • Liz

    Thank you for all the nice recipes.

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Liz! Glad you’re here 🙂

Get our free email series: 5 Easy Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less

Plus our newest recipes each week