This Caprese Pasta Salad recipe is super quick and easy to make ahead of time and always a crowd favorite!
This weekend, my small group from church decided to head outta town for an impromptu little Memorial Day campout.
Although, I should probably say that “campout” was a generous term. ;)
As it turned out, my friend’s parents’ house where we were staying actually had enough bedrooms and couches for the dozen of us who preferred to sleep indoors, so I didn’t have to snuggle up with the insect kingdom. We also nixed cooking by campfire and instead made use of their amazing big kitchen, cooking up a big dinner spread together complete with burgers and hot dogs and grilled veggies and (this!) pasta salad and old-school potato chips and dips and local craft beers galore. Which was followed, the next morning, by a fabulously long and lazy homemade breakfast together the next morning, where we sat around the dining table in the morning sunlight chatting about everything from friendship to the best oysters in KC to the Enneagram to The Bachelorette.
Granted, we did build a big campfire that we sat around late at night. And we did spend plenty of time outside paddle-boating around the lake, riding four-wheelers around, and star-gazing with this amazing app. So maybe it could still count as campout-ish. But hey, whatever you call it, it was just one of those deeply good, restorative weekends all around. So thankful to have had the chance to get outta town, and soak up some wide open spaces (and wide-open free time) with good friends. Good for my little soul.
Also good? This yummy little impromptu caprese pasta salad that I whipped up to bring with me. My friends gave it two thumbs up, so I thought I’d share it with you guys today as well.
This Caprese Pasta Salad recipe is super quick and easy to make ahead of time and always a crowd favorite.
8 ounces uncooked pasta (any shape will do)
1 dry pint (10 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of red and yellow)
8 ounces pearl mini mozzarella balls*
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta in a large stockpot of generously-salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta in a strainer and rinse under cold water for about 1 minute, gently tossing the pasta until it is no longer hot.
Toss the pasta salad. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper and toss until evenly combined.
Season. Taste and season with extra balsamic, salt and/or pepper, if needed.
Serve. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Mozzarella: Alternatively, you can buy a large 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella and dice it into small pieces.
Recipe edit: This recipe was edited to include less pasta and a simpler balsamic dressing in 2022.
Great timing, Ali! I am starting to plan for our upcoming summer bash and always make a macaroni salad to go with our burgers and dogs – this would be PERFECT! Lighter than your typical mayo based salad, much better for a humid summer BBQ! =D
Awesome! We hope you enjoy this! :D
Pasta salad is one of my all time favorites for summer! Loving all the bright and beautiful colors in this one especially!
YUM. Camping is SO not my thing, but with this in hand, I may just become a camping convert ;)
Caprese pasta salad looks spectacular !! It looks like a spicy dish and it is my favourite. Thanks for sharing this recipe ? Keep posting.
Thanks, we appreciate that! :D
I love how colorful this pasta salad looks!
I am allergic to dairy and I was wondering if you had any recommendations to substitute for cheese. I love pasta salad and I have been craving it sooooo badly(I’m a 14 year old girl that’s allergic to the whole world, so I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like to crave so many wonderful foods that you can’t eat). Anyways, I have tried brainstorming ideas, and I have also tried making it without cheese and you can tell that something is missing for sure. I thought your chef mind might be able to come up with something :)
Hi Lindsey! We’re so sorry about your food allergies — we can imagine how frustrating they must be! :( As for non-dairy cheese substitutes, unfortunately we’re not the best people to ask. However, we did find some articles with some good info that might be helpful to you (we hope)! Also, for this particular recipe (we know the flavor won’t be the same), but the texture will be pretty darn close), we think you could try using tofu. Get the extra firm, drain and dry it really well, and then cut it into little cubes. We hope this is somewhat helpful — best of luck to you!
This looks great! It would be really yummy with those little ball of mozzarella they sell at Trader Joe’s! those things are so dang perfect
Thanks Sarah — we hope you enjoy! :)
Ali! I’ve made your Brussels sprout tacos for my BF twice now – he’s obsessed. Thx for letting me impress him. Also added jack fruit to your chipotle adobo sauce from the sofritas recipe – delicious and vegan!
Do you mind sharing your enneagram ? I’m a six :) I love the enneagram and I’m just curious.
Hi Kaitlin! We’re so glad you and your boyfriend enjoy the tacos, and that jack fruit in the adobo sauce sounds amazing — what an awesome idea! :D
Thanks for the share! Looks like a quick easy recipe to make, thanks for the post!
You’re welcome Kylie — we hope you enjoy it! :)
Balsamic vinegar made this dressing quite brown. It tastes great but doesn’t look very appetizing. How can I get the flavor with no color?
Hey Kerry! Sorry about the coloring — some balsamic vinegars are darker than others. If you want to nix the dark coloring all together, you can purchase white (or “golden”) balsamic vinegar at most stores now. I really love the DeLallo brand — https://www.delallo.com/products/golden-balsamic-style-vinegar
This looks amazing! Great dish for the summer!
We made this for a potluck this week and LOVED it! The flavor was awesome, and it was so easy to make. Bookmarking this for the future for sure!
Simple and delish! Perfect side dish to whip up when company is coming over!
This pasta salad is amazing! I’ve made it at least three times, and each time it’s a crowd favorite. I love to make it at the beginning of the week and take it for my lunches!
This looks so yummy. I’m going to make this for memorial day. Thanks for this recipe.
Hi there! Do you happen to have the original recipe for this pasta salad? It’s a summer staple at our house! Thank you!!!