After living in Phoenix for more than ten years, I’m always on the hunt for anything to help keep us cool – drinks, desserts, ice packs, cruises to Antarctica, you name it. If something is served cooler than body temperature then I’m all over it.
Another glorious addition to that keeping-things-cool list?
They’re like my anthem every summer and go-to side dish for the more “moderate” times (or in other words, “every other season but summer.”)
So to top off what has been a fairly stressful week, I whipped up what could possibly be the most no-hassle-yet-flavorful pasta salad I could think of:
Caprese pasta salad.
Because, yes, I totally want to drizzle tangy balsamic glaze over baby heirloom tomatoes, cubes of mozzarella, and chilled pasta.
Now, if you happen to love caprese as much as I do, be warned: the real trick with the recipe is making sure you have some left over after taste-testing.
Because while this recipe may be simple, that’s also exactly why it’s so good. It’s classic caprese at it’s finest with a little pasta to join the party.
What is caprese?
Traditional caprese (pronounced “ka-prey-zey”) is made with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. Balsamic glaze is a common addition, and it’s sometimes served with prosciutto.
For this recipe, the classic caprese trio remains the same but is also joined by mostaccioli pasta. You can use any type of pasta that you’d like, but I’d recommend not using a “noodle-like” pasta. This recipe will work best with a pasta that’s bite-sized, like penne or bow-tie, especially when serving it at a party.
How many calories are in caprese pasta salad?
Calorie counts can be subjective, especially since these numbers will change depending on the brand of pasta or what brand of balsamic you use (whether you’re making it from scratch or you buy the glaze).
To give you an idea, this recipe makes four servings, and the estimation is that each serving will be 586 calories.
However, please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist and these are just an estimate. If nutritional information is important to you and your diet, please verify this recipe with your favorite nutrition calculator.
What to serve with caprese pasta salad?
This type of pasta dish is typically served as a side, and you might be wondering what main dishes you could serve with it. Here are a few suggestions:
Grilled or marinated meats, such as:
- Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken
- Grilled BBQ Pork Chops
- Italian Style Meatball Kabobs
- Apple Cider Pork Chops
- Smoky Ranch Pork Chops
- Sweet Italian Chicken
Brothy vegetable soups, such as:
Strong vegetable dishes, such as:
Notes & tips for this caprese pasta salad
- This recipe has instructions for making a homemade balsamic reduction, but you could easily use store-bought balsamic glaze instead.
More caprese recipes
Caprese Pasta Salad
This caprese pasta salad is the ideal low-hassle side dish that still tastes gourmet. Homemade balsamic glaze (or store-bought!) is drizzled over sliced baby heirloom tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, bite-sized mozzarella, and a pasta of your choice.
For the Balsamic Glaze
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to boil. Reduce heat and let balsamic simmer for at least 20 minutes or until vinegar has reduced by 1/2. Use a spoon to test the glaze - it should leave a film on the back of the spoon when ready. Glaze will thicken more once removed from heat.
- Place glaze in the refrigerator until ready to use. If glaze thickens too much while resting, stir in 1/4 tsp of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.
For the Caprese Pasta Salad
In a large saucepan, cook noodles in salted water per package directions. Drain and immediately rise the pasta with ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Let pasta sit in a strainer for a few minutes to remove any excess water.
Place cooled pasta in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add in cut tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, then gently toss to combine so that ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Serve immediately, drizzling prepared balsamic glaze on top.