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Pasta Caprese {With Only 5 Ingredients!}

Pasta Caprese {With Only 5 Ingredients!}

Pasta Caprese is a delicious and flavorful summer pasta made with famous Caprese Salad ingredients – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.

You can prepare it as pasta fredda which is essentially cold Caprese Pasta Salad.

If you prefer traditional hot pasta you can make hot pasta caprese using all the same ingredients just changing slightly the cooking process.

With this recipe you’ll have step by step instructions on how to make it both ways.

For summer time, Pasta Caprese in salad version is the best.

It’s filling but refreshing at the same time.

It’s quick and super easy to make with only 5 main ingredients.

You don’t need to cook any of the ingredients except for pasta.

You can easily use leftover Caprese Pasta and turn it into hot pasta dish the next day.

Its ingredients essentially represent Italian flag colors so it’s a great dish for summer gatherings that tastes delicious and looks attractive to the eye..

Ingredients & Substitutes

pasta caprese ingredients

Pasta – high quality durum wheat pasta is essential for this recipe. As opposed to soft wheat pasta it won’t get mushy or soggy when mixed in a pasta salad. It also has more flavor and it’s healthiest as well due to higher amount of fiber.

Short type of pasta is the best. You can use any short pasta you have available. Most common pasta shapes for pasta salads are bowtie pasta (farfalle), classic fusilli, penne and even radiatori. If you choose penne pasta make sure they’re rigged penne to help better hold the sauce. 

Pick any of these 2 Neapolitan pasta brands and you will not regret: Rummo, Garofalo

Cherry Tomatoes – tomatoes will be used raw in classic pasta fredda (cold Caprese Pasta Salad) version so it’s super important to pick the best quality, sweet cherry tomatoes you can find. Cherry tomatoes can be substituted with grape or plum tomatoes (oblong shape quality of small size tomatoes) or datterino tomatoes (Italian sweet variety of oval shaped tomato). 

Mozzarella  Cheesefresh small mozzarella balls or mozzarella pearls that are even tinier work the best for this recipe. If needed you can substitute them with regular fresh mozzarella ball cut in small cubes and drained from excess liquid. The most important thing is that it’s fresh mozzarella (that floats in liquid in the package). Don’t use Mozzarella for pizza as it has a very different taste.

Fresh Basil Leaves – washed and pat dried with a paper towel. You’ll need basil leaves for the sauce so as extra leaves to put directly in the salad. If you don’t have time or blender to make fresh basil sauce from sauce (which uses only 2 ingredients!) you can substitute it with a few tablespoons of basil pesto sauce.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – the best quality you can get. In such a simple pasta with minimal ingredients every ingredients with impact the taste in a significant way.

How To Make Pasta Caprese – Cold Caprese Pasta Salad

  • Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Add salt, about 1 tbsp for 3 quarts (3 liters) of water.
    Once water is boiling drop pasta, give a quick stir and let cook until ‘al dente’ which literally means “to the tooth”.
    Pasta cooked ‘al dente’ might feel slightly undercooked for anyone who is used to eat well-cooked or even overcooked pasta but in really it just has a slight bite to it. 
    This is exactly how we want to cook pasta for this pasta salad or any other Italian pasta for this matter.
    It’s a good idea to check cooking time indicated on the package but be sure it taste your pasta 2-3 minute before expected doneness. Sometimes time indicated on the package will cook pasta completely. Remember, we want it with a little bit of bite.
  • While pasta is cooking slice cherry tomatoes in half and drain mozzarella cheese from excess liquid. Mozzarella bites should about the size of cherry tomato halves. So if you’re using large mozzarella balls cut it in cubes the size of the cherry tomato.
  • Prepare basil sauce. Wash and pat dry basil leaves. They should be completely dry to prevent the sauce from turning brown.
    Using a hand-held blender or food processor pulse basil leaves with extra virgin olive oil and a few pinches of salt until you get a smooth paste. Keep the remaining basil leaves for later to add directly to the salad and if you wish for garnish.
making pasta caprese
  • Once pasta is ready, drain it and quickly rinse with cold water.
  • Place in a large bowl with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to prevent it from sticking as it cools. Let cool completely.
assembling pasta caprese
  • Add basil sauce and mix well. 
  • Lastly add cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and remaining basil leaves torn by hand. Give a gentle toss and serve.

Top Tips for making Pasta Caprese

  • Be sure to not overcook pasta. It should be perfectly ‘al dente’ –  with a light bite to it when drained. 
  • It’s essential to add the extra virgin olive oil to your pasta immediately after draining, otherwise it will stick together as it cools.
  • You can prepare pasta a few hours in advance since it needs to cool completely anyway. When ready to serve, assemble with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Use leftovers to make a delicious pasta bake. 

How long does Pasta Caprese last?

Usually it disappears pretty quickly. But if you make a bigger batch you can store it in the fridge in air-tight container for 2 days. When ready to consume you can leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes or make quick and easy Caprese Pasta Bake.

pasta caprese salad

How To Make Hot Pasta Caprese

You can make hot Pasta Caprese from scratch or using any leftovers from your Caprese Pasta Salad.

Making Hot Pasta Caprese from scratch

  • Start by bringing a pot of slightly salted water to a boil and cook pasta until almost done – with a light bite to it. Make sure to preserve a ladle of hot pasta cooking liquid.
  • In the meantime add a generous slash of extra virgin olive oil in pan, then add cherry tomato halves and half of the basil leaves torn with your hands.
    In hot Caprese version also add a garlic clove or two crushed with a flat knife. Let roast together with tomatoes until tomatoes are lightly browned. Discard garlic.
  • Once pasta is ready add it to the pan with tomatoes and a splash of pasta cooking liquid.
  • Stir well, then add mozzarella. Toss quickly and turn the heat off. Let pasta sit for 2 more minutes in a pan to let mozzarella melt without getting chewy.
  • Add remaining fresh basil torn in small pieces and serve.

Making Hot Pasta Caprese from the leftovers

  • Generously dust the bottom of the baking dish with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Add leftover pasta caprese and top it with more breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Bake at 350F (175C) for 15-20 minutes until delicious crust forms.

More Summer Pasta Recipes To Try

pasta caprese

Pasta Caprese {With Only 5 Ingredients!}

Pasta caprese is a delicious and flavorful summer pasta made with famous Caprese Salad ingredients – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Make it in hot or cold version!
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces short pasta like bowties , farfalle or fussilli (250 grams)
  • 9 ounces cherry tomatoes (250 grams)
  • 9 oz fresh mozzarella pearls or 2 mozzarella balls cut in cubes (250 grams)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt

For Basil Sauce

Instructions

  • Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Add salt, about 1 tbsp for 3 quarts (3 liters) of water.
  • Once water is boiling drop pasta, give a quick stir and let cook until ‘al dente’ which literally means “to the tooth”. Pasta cooked 'al dente' might feel slightly undercooked for anyone who is used to eat well-cooked or even overcooked pasta but in really it just has a slight bite to it.
    And this is exactly how we want to cook pasta for this pasta salad.
    9 ounces short pasta like bowties
  • While pasta is cooking slice cherry tomatoes in half and drain mozzarella cheese from excess liquid. Mozzarella bites should about the size of cherry tomato halves. So if you’re using large mozzarella balls cut it in cubes the size of the cherry tomato.
  • Prepare basil sauce. Wash and pat dry basil leaves. They should be completely dry to prevent the sauce from turning brown.
    Using a hand-held blender or food processor pulse basil leaves with extra virgin olive oil and a few pinches of salt until you get a smooth paste. Keep the remaining basil leaves for later to add directly to the salad and if you wish for garnish.
    10 large fresh basil leaves, ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil, Pinch of salt
  • Once pasta is ready, drain it and quickly rinse with cold water.
  • Place in a large bowl with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to prevent it from sticking as it cools. Let cool completely.
    Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Add basil sauce and mix well.
  • Lastly add cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and remaining basil leaves torn by hand. Give a gentle toss and serve.
    9 ounces cherry tomatoes, 9 oz fresh mozzarella pearls or 2 mozzarella balls cut in cubes, 10 fresh basil leaves

Notes

If you want to make hot pasta caprese you can do so by making it from scratch or using leftovers from this cold Caprese Pasta Salad.
See above the recipe for detailed step-by-step instructions.
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Whether you prefer Pasta Caprese as cold pasta salad or its creamy hot version you’ll enjoy this delicious tomato, basil and mozzarella combination born in a small town of Capri.

Pasta Caprese {Creamy Delicious 2 ways to make}

Buon Appetito!

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Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It} - Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 9th of June 2022

[…] Pasta Caprese – enjoy tomato, mozzarella and basil flavors in one delicious Pasta Caprese. You can make it as cold Caprese Pasta Salad or indulge yourself with hot and creamy cold season version. […]