Caprese Pasta Salad

Tomato. Basil. Mozzarella. Balsamic.

Caprese Pasta Salad ll

Pretty much my favorite savory flavors of summer.

Since I started my garden in late May, I’ve watched my basil grow to an enormous plant and every time I sit on my front porch its scent wafts my way and I daydream about what I’m going to make with it. My herb garden has been like a baby to me. It’s the only thing {besides my children of course} I’ve been able to manage without killing. My pretty hanging flower basket… dead just after 3 weeks! See what I mean? I’ve just come to accept the fact that I don’t have a green thumb… but thank goodness my herbs don’t seem to mind.


So my first recipe with my fresh garden basil is this easy and delicious summer pasta salad. It has all the classic Caprese flavors with a quick and easy balsamic vinaigrette. I made it to go a long with grilled chicken {a recipe I’ll be sharing soon!} and it was the perfect light addition for our summertime Sunday dinner.

i love my garlic press

Squeeze two cloves of garlic…

2 cloves

… directly into a small bowl.

balsamic vinegar

Pour in a third cup of balsamic vinegar.

whisk in olive oil

And whisk while slowly pouring in three tablespoons of olive oil. Thasss it. Set it off to the side and get going on the rest of the pasta salad.


Cook two cups of orecchiette pasta in boiling water that you seasoned with a couple generous pinches of kosher salt. Drain and rinse with cold water. I know there are some people out there cringing right now… and for that, I am sorry.


Rinse off a pint of grape tomatoes.

quartered grape tomatoes

Quarter the tomatoes and set those off to the side as well.


I scored these fresh mozzarella pearls at the grocery store. Of course you can simply buy a ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into small squares, but I think I’m saving you some time and knife-time… which only makes this salad easier to whip up. BONUS!


Pour the mozz-balls {oh yes I did!} into a strainer and set off to the side with the pasta and tomatoes.

sliced basil

Slice up about a cup of fresh basil leaves into thin ribbons.

pasta salad building collage

Then in a bowl add the cooked and cooled pasta, quartered tomatoes, fresh mozz-balls and the basil ribbons.

pour a little balsamic vinaigrette

Pour in the desired amount of balsamic vinaigrette. You most likely won’t use all of it… but I just save the remainder for a salad.

s & p

Give it a little toss-toss and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Ps the mozz-balls naturally gravitate to the orecchiette… it’s like fate or something.

Caprese Pasta Salad

And you are done.

Just keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to chow-down and all is good in the hood.

I’m telling you… you’re gonna love this, it’s so light and fresh and well… EASY!

Caprese is where it’s at you guys!

Caprese Pasta Salad ll


Caprese Pasta Salad

Classic Caprese flavors in pasta salad form.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes {for the pasta}

Total Time: 30-35 minutes


2 cups dried Orecchiette Pasta, cooked as directed on the package

1 pint Grape Tomatoes, quartered

1 container Fresh Mozzarella Pearls {or 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed small}

1 cup Fresh Basil, sliced into ribbons

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper


2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, squeezed through a garlic press

1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar

3 tablespoons Olive Oil


In a small bowl squeeze two cloves of garlic through a garlic press. Pour in balsamic vinegar and whisk. Continue to whisk while slowly, pouring in the three tablespoons of olive oil in steady stream.

Cook orecchiette pasta according to package directions. Drain and then rinse with cold water. Add the cold pasta to a bowl along with the quartered tomatoes, fresh mozzarella pearls and basil ribbons.

Season with kosher salt and black pepper and drizzle with desired amount of the balsamic vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste preference before serving!

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80 Responses to “Caprese Pasta Salad”

  1. #
    Aparna B. — July 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I love any variation of caprese salad. I’ve eaten an abundance of tomatoes and basil already this summer! I tend to shy away from pasta salads in the summer to keep my carb count on the low side, but hey! All things in moderation, right? This would be a great dish to bring to a BBQ for a lot of people!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 22nd, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

      I agree! Today I had the leftovers with a ton of grilled chicken and it was AMAZING! But you’re right all things in moderation… especially when it comes to carbs {and chocolate} 😉

  2. #
    Tieghan Gerard — July 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Caprese pasta is the best, but I love your noodles you choose and the cute itty bitty mozzarella balls! I have never seen those before, but now I need them! Looks so good!

  3. #
    Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig — July 22, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Love this so much! All the fresh flavors here are coming to my kitchen soon!!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 22nd, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

      Thanks Cathy! I love tomato and basil together and could eat them together every single day! 🙂

  4. #
    Jennifer @ Not Your Momma's Cookie — July 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Beautiful, gorgeous, and everything in between!!

  5. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — July 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Please teach me your herb-growing ways because my basil has decided to turn on me and die a slow death. #sadtimes However, that won’t stop me from making this magical looking pasta salad. Yum!!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 22nd, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

      Well… apparently you have to water them 😉 but other than that, I have no idea. 🙂

  6. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — July 22, 2013 at 11:32 am

    OMG!! I love those little mozzarella balls. And kudos for you on growing herbs. The hubs has the green thumb in our household. Show me your ways!!!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 22nd, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

      I was calling them mozz-balls all day… it was fun. I honestly have no idea why they’re still alive… I think Pat has been tending to them behind my back!

  7. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — July 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I love anything caprese, this salad looks so good!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 22nd, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

      Me TOO Laura!! If only it worked as a dessert…

  8. #
    Diana — July 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I need this salad in my life right now! Just curious, what garlic press do you use? I’ve been on the hunt for a good one for awhile now…

  9. #
    Sally @ Sallys Baking Addiction — July 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Definitely all of my favorite savory flavors of summer too Laurie! This pasta salad looks amazing. And so pretty too!

  10. #
    Jennie @themessybakerblog — July 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    This salad looks absolutely delicious. So fresh and summery. Love it!

  11. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — July 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I love these flavors, especially this time of year. Looks fab, Laurie!

  12. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — July 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    You read my mind, lovely Laurie! This is killer. I cannot get enough caprese this time of year!

  13. #
    rachel — July 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    You truly can’t go wrong with caprese anything, add in pasta and turn it into a perfect summer pasta salad…. good gracious, woman. YUM! This is a gorgeous recipe for the tummy and the eyes!

  14. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — July 22, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Gorgeous salad and I’m craving that vinaigrette!!

  15. #
    Julia | — July 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    This pasta salad literally screams “SUMMER”!

  16. #
    Christina @ The Beautiful Balance — July 23, 2013 at 3:24 am

    How am I just now learning that mozzarella pearls exist! I will not stop until I find them 😛 haha

    This pasta salad looks incredible and I love that you used fresh basil from your garden!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 23rd, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

      I just found them when I was reaching for a ball of fresh mozz… and fell in love!

  17. #
    Chloe Chase — July 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

    This salad looks wonderful. It has several of my favorite ingredients. Thanks.

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 23rd, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

      Thanks you Chole… thanks for stopping by 🙂

  18. #
    Sheila — July 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Well aren’t’ those just the cutest little balls of deliciousness!?! love this salad…nom nom nom

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 23rd, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

      Haha! I know! I found them at Meijer Sheila… so many possibilities with these babies!

  19. #
    Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer — July 23, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Love these ingredients mixed with pasta! And the more basil, the better! Great post, I’d love for lunch today!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 23rd, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

      Me too Sandy! I love love love fresh basil!

  20. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — July 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I want this for lunch right now – so good! Love the balsamic!

  21. #
    Jackie {The Beeroness} — July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Such a great summer BBQ side dish 🙂

  22. #
    Jessica@AKitchenAddiction — July 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Love all of the fresh summer flavors!

  23. #
    Katrina @ WVS — July 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Love this! Such a fabulous recipe for summer!

    • simplyscratch replied: — July 24th, 2013 @ 10:27 am

      Thanks Katrina 🙂

  24. #
    John Ward — July 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

    This is my second visit to your blog and I must compliment you again on the pictures. They just look amazing. They paint such a lovely and appetizing picture.

    My wife and I just love salads, especially with pasta, although she has to do her own as she is gluten free

  25. #
    Amy Cochran — July 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This is the best caprese salad EVER! The addition of the orecchiette pasta is genius. I made it tonight for dinner, and it was sooo good! I love all of your posts and have made so many of the recipes. Thank you for another winner! 🙂

  26. #
    Katie — July 25, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Yummm! I am on SUCH a caprese kick lately, and this looks like perfection!

  27. #
    Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats — July 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    LOVE this pasta salad!! Caprese is a fav for sure! What a great idea!

  28. #
    Lisa — August 12, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Really fabulous! I made the full recipe for just one and loved having something quick to add to a piece of chicken or pork later in the week! 1 dinner and 3 lunched later I give this a huge thumbs up!

  29. #
    Ashley — August 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

    This was delicious! I loved the twist on a traditional caprese salad plus it was super cute with the mozzarella pearls and orrechiette pasta. I used the Cherub Cherry Tomatoes and they really made the dish along with the fresh basil. I will definitely be making this again, thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 13th, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

      Hi Ashley! Thank you for coming back and leaving a comment! I’m so glad you liked this pasta salad, it’s such a yummy summer dish! 🙂

  30. #
    JL — December 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    This was delicious and super easy! I’ve easily packed two lunches for myself to bring to work (yay!) but I think the portion of the vinaigrette was a lot like you indicated. I dumped half of the vinaigrette into my pasta and found it to be a little too overwhelming oops… So for those who like lighter salads, I would say use the vinaigrette sparingly! Don’t go with a heavy hand like me but I will definitely be making this again.

  31. #
    Ashley Schultz — March 5, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I just made this and I’m eating it right now. It is so good! Right up my alley. I love the garlic in the dressing – a perfect compliment. My 14-month-old loves the fresh mozzarella. He keeps making the more sign in sign language like crazy. This is going into my favorite recipes archives. Thanks for sharing!

  32. #
    Amy W. — March 16, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I just joined pinterest yesterday and wanted this to be the first recipe i tried to make. I was very happy with how it turned out, i ended up using a premade balsamic and cut up the mozzarella in into “mozza-balls” as best as i could. When mixing together I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder and it was great!! Can’t wait to try something new tomorrow 🙂

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — March 16th, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

      Hi Amy! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, It’s my all time favorite spring/summer salad!

  33. #
    Courtney — March 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

    looks seriously amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. #
    Sarah — April 11, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Question- no Dijon in the vinegarette?

  35. #
    Terrie — May 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I made a half recipe of this yesterday. I put all of the dressing on it and it made it look like a mushroom salad! It tasted good, but did not look appealing. A light basaltic vinegar might help that look. I also added some red onion to give it a little crunch/pizazz. Next time I would marinate the rest of the ingredients in the dressing and add the pasta last. You may want to consider using mushrooms instead of pasta and go gluten free!

  36. #
    Stacey — June 9, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Hi! This looks so yummy! I want to make it for a tennis match tomorrow. Do you think it would be ok to make tonight and let it sit in the fridge overnight? Or, is it best served freshly made? Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — June 10th, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

      Hi Stacey! I’m sorry I missed getting back to you! I would definitely keep the dressing off of the salad until ready to serve. 🙂

  37. #
    Bertie — June 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Hi I’ve just made this pasta salad for 20 people for my kids sports day picnic tomorrow and am so pleased with how it turned out!! I was asked to make a pasta salad and went online and found your recipe, thank you so much for coming up with it. I did put balsamic vinegar on it already so it does have a slightly darkened colour but tastes great, especially with the garlic, and I added lots of freshly ground pepper too! thanks so much once again – this recipe really helped me out!!

  38. #
    Tahoe Girlie — July 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    OMG! Sounds delicious … yet went to make it and the pasta you suggested did nothing but clump up together into one hard mass … gonna have to start over using a different pasta …. grrrrrrrr 🙁

  39. #
    Eileen — July 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Loved the taste! The appearance after adding the balsamic vinegar dressing was nothing like your picture. Mine was dark and looked unappealing.

  40. #
    Sarah — August 22, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Terrific, tasty, go back for seconds pasta salad! It was so easy to make! I needed something for a potluck dinner and found this recipe. I made a double batch. I used pipe rigate pasta because that’s what I had. Everything was cut to the same size as the pasta…grape tomatoes cut into quarters, cherry sized mozzarella cut into quarters. I prepared everything the day before and mixed it together about an hour before the party. People were coming back for seconds and thirds! When you need something good to have at home or bring to a party this is an easy, delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  41. #
    Nancy — June 12, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Have made your Caprese Pasta Salad twice now. The first time, my older son ate almost the whole salad!Was glad he left me some so I could try it. The second time my whole family of 4 had some and all where very pleased! Thank-You for an easy and taste meal!!!

  42. #
    sarah — June 20, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    This looks delicious! There is something so satisfying about those mozzarella balls fitting perfectly into the pasta.

  43. #
    Robin — July 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    This salad looks amazing! I’m planning to double or triple it up for a party on Friday. Do you recommend making this a day ahead, or is it not a good idea? I’d like it to look as pretty as your pictures! Do you have any tips for slicing the basil without bruising? Thank you so much for this awesome recipe.

  44. #
    Debbie — July 15, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I cant find orichiette pasta? What do u suggest for substitute?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — July 22nd, 2016 @ 9:56 am

      Hi Debbie! Any medium pasta should work, maybe ditalini or small shells?


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