Skip to Content

Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

A caprese salad in a bowl with many delicious ingredients in it.

Pasta salad is a favorite summertime recipe because it is so delicious and perfect for when the temperatures begin to climb. When things get hot, most people don’t feel like eating heavy, filling foods.

A caprese salad in a bowl with many delicious ingredients in it.

Caprese Pasta Salad

April Freeman
This recipe is a great side dish for such occasions. It is fresh and delicious, but it does not include mayonnaise, something that some people just do not care for. The combination of cheerful red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheeses makes this pasta salad recipe just as appealing to look at as it is tasty to eat. It also smells amazing, since basil is such an appealing herb to include in recipes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 18 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8


  • 1 Sauce Pan
  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Mason Jar
  • 1 Refrigerator
  • 1 Container


  • 16 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup jarred pesto
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese               
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil leaves
  • ¼ cup sliced black olives, drained
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • Heat a large saucepan full of water to boiling and add a teaspoon of salt. Cook the rotini pasta according to package instructions.
  • Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it with cool water until the pasta is cool to the touch.
  • Toss the pasta with the tablespoon of olive oil, and add a pinch or two of salt and pepper, stirring to distribute these ingredients. 
  • In a half pint mason jar with a tightly fitted lid, add the ¼ cup olive oil, the pesto, and the balsamic vinegar. Add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake it vigorously to combine them together. 
  • Use a cutting board and a sharp knife to cut the tomatoes. Remove the seeds and dice them into pieces that are about ½ to 1 inch in size. 
    A large red salad bowl with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, black olives, Parmesan cheese and basil leaves mixed in it.
  • Place the pasta in a large salad bowl and add the mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, black olives, Parmesan cheese and basil leaves.
  • Add the dressing and toss the salad to coat it in the dressing. You may not use all the dressing. Taste the pasta salad as you dress it and stop when it tastes right to you. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Garnish with a few whole basil leaves and serve. This pasta salad is best if it is made a few hours before you want to eat it. Let it chill and then serve it.
  • Store the leftover pasta salad in the refrigerator in a container with a tightly fitted lid.


Additionally, most of the time, nobody wants to heat up the kitchen by turning on the stove or the oven when it is hot outside. Having a bowl of this pasta salad in the fridge will give you just the right thing to reach for when your family needs to eat but nobody wants to cook.
Another great way to share a pasta salad is to bring it to a potluck cookout. When someone is tossing some burgers and hot dogs on the grill, they often ask for everyone else to bring side dishes.
This recipe uses rotini as the pasta. Rotini has lots of spirals that can trap the seasonings and the salad dressing. However, if you do not have it on hand, shell pasta, bow tie pasta, or penne might also be great options for this pasta dish. We used tri-color rotini pasta to add extra color and interest to this pasta salad.
To start with, you will need to cook the pasta. You want to cook the pasta just to the “al dente” stage. Al dente is the description for cooking pasta to the point where the noodles are still a bit firm when you bite into them.
After cooking, when you drain the pasta in a colander, you definitely want to rinse it with cool water. The cool water halts the cooking process and keeps the pasta from getting overcooked. Over-cooked pasta is mushy and will ruin the texture of your recipe.
As a general rule, when you cook pasta for a dish with a sauce that is hot, you do not rinse the pasta after you drain it. However, when you cook pasta for a dish that is served cold, like a pasta salad, you want to rinse it with cool water to stop the cooking process and rinse any extra starch off the noodles, which will cause the noodles to stick together after cooking.
Whether you want to eat this pasta salad with a cold sandwich for lunch, want to serve it as a side dish at dinner, or plan on packing it in a basket for a picnic at the park, this recipe for Caprese Pasta Salad is cool and delicious.
Keyword caprese, Pasta Salad Recipe, Salad

All Recipes | Breakfast | Dinner (Mains) | Dessert | Side Dishes | Soups | Appetizers | Salads | Snacks | Beverages | Breads