Caprese Pesto Pasta salad is a delicious combination of popular ingredients. It's a tomato mozzarella pesto salad with pasta making it a complete meal!
The Cold Stuffed Tomatoes are a 5 min no bake recipe!
Taking a twist on the traditional with the additions of pesto and pasta for a meal in one!
Why you will love this recipe
This recipe honours the much loved and popular caprese salad.
A simple combination usually consisting of cherry tomatoes, basil, soft white cheese (mozzarella in the form of bocconcini balls) and often paired with balsamic vinegar or glaze, the combination of flavours is simply heavenly.
Sometimes you want a light salad and sometimes you want something a little more hearty.
This salad delivers the light bright component and pasta for the satisfyingly well fed component.
Do you add pesto to hot or cold pasta
Pesto is the hero ingredient in this dish. We add it to freshly cooked (drained) pasta and pour in a little leftover pasta water to get a silky smooth sauce.
You can use store bought pesto and for full disclosure, I am using a Basil Pesto I purchased from the store.
Can you eat pesto straight from the jar
Pesto is fine to eat straight from the jar...however there is a little 'but' to this.
Most commonly used for stirring through pasta, pesto is a versatile ingredient and lends itself to a variety of uses.
Whilst it can be eaten straight from the jar, it depends on the context, brand, type and intention that you are using it for.
It is better to use a store bought dip type pesto if you want to use it as a dip or eat the pesto as is.
On the other hand, if you use a jar of pesto, these are best stirred through cooked, drained pasta, before tasting as their flavour is much more concentrated and doesn't lend itself to snacking the way the dip version does.
Much food or should I say pesto for your consideration!
The ingredients for this recipe are simple and easy to find. They are set out in the photo below so you can see exactly what you need:
As you can see, the recipe calls for:
- dried pasta (you can use your favorite)
- pesto (store bought or homemade is fine)
- cherry tomatoes
- grape tomatoes
- mozzarella balls (bocconcini balls)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
If you grow your own herbs, feel free to use homegrown basil.
There is nothing more delightful when spending time in the kitchen, with a quick step outside to the garden, snipping some herbs and adding them to whatever you are cooking.
I am using homegrown basil for this recipe.
Step by step instructions
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe.
- Add tomatoes and mozzarella to a medium bowl, season with salt, pepper and olive oil (Photo 1)
- Add basil to seasoned ingredients (Photo 2)
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to packet instructions (Photo 3)
- Drain pasta, reserve ½ cup of the water, dollop in the pesto, pour in the water and stir to combine (Photo 4)
I like to use a tube pasta for this recipe (rigatoni, penne, macaroni) as I find that the pesto goes into the pasta tubes and bursts with flavour in your mouth.
A tip I have learnt over time with making this salad is that you can make it ahead of time and if you do, it is best not to slice all of the tomatoes in half. This saves a soggy salad!
- Pour the reserved pasta water into the pesto pasta (Photo 5)
- Stir to combine (Photo 6)
- Add both the seasoned ingredients and the pesto pasta to the salad bowl (Photo 7)
- Use salad servers to toss the salad Photo 8)
Frequently asked questions
- this is a quick, easy and simple recipe!
- the salt, pepper and olive oil is used to season the tomatoes and cheese
- this recipe is not suitable to freeze
- the recipe can be made ahead of time
- use either store bought or homemade pesto
- use mozzarella or bocconcini cheese balls (both names for same cheese, which is soft and mild in taste and texture)
- hold off tossing the salad till ready to serve
- the recipe takes approx 20 mins to bring together
- serve as a side salad with grilled meats, chicken and ham or a complete meal on its own!
This is what I have learnt over time when making this recipe. These tips will help you master the recipe from the 1st time you try and each time you make it:
- If making the salad ahead of time, don't slice all of the tomatoes in half as this will make the salad soggy, keep all whole and slice a few in half at the time of serving
- Add only the basil leaves, discard the basil stems
- Use a tube type pasta to allow for the pesto sauce to enter the pasta and bring delight
- When seasoning the tomatoes and cheese, use a gentle approach when stirring as these are fragile ingredients and we want to keep them looking their best
Try serving this salad as a side to any of the following recipes:
Or serve as is, a complete meal in one on Meatless Mondays!
Salad recipes to try
Pin and Save this recipe for later!
Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
- Salad bowl
- Salad servers
- Mixing bowl
- Chopping block
- Medium size sauce pan
- dried pasta
- ½ cup pesto
- 1 cup baby bocconcini balls
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions in a pot of boiling, salted water
- Drain pasta and reserve ½ cup pasta water
- Add tomatoes, bocconcini, salt, pepper and olive oil to a medium size bowl, stir to combine
- Add cooked pasta to a heavy based medium pot, dollop in pesto and pasta water, stir to combine
- Add tomato and cheese mix to pesto pasta, stir to combine
Pesto Pasta party time
How about a pesto for your thoughts, haha I HAD to do it!
This recipe works so well and sings with its own 'you don't need anything else, I've got this' vibe.
The simple combo of pesto and pasta elevates the traditional caprese salad to next level yum.
I would LOVE to hear your feedback in the comments below, please let me know if you make this recipe.
It's a pesto pasta party and your invited!