Caprese Pasta Salad

Tomatoes and mozzarella, marinating.

I love tomatoes. To me, there’s no better part of summer than eating sun-warmed tomatoes right from the vine.

Of course, some people actually want their tomatoes to be part of something bigger, like an actual recipe, and caprese salad is a classic example. But you can’t really do a classic caprese with the 4 million cherry tomatoes that are coming off the vine in droves. This is what caprese pasta salad is for.

I’ve made a version of this for a while, and then discovered that the Bidens had a similar version. Personally, I like mine better because it uses the extra spice from the marinated mozzarella, but you can judge for yourself.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallot or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, only needed when using out-of-season tomatoes)
  • 2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 12 ounces marinated fresh mozzarella cheese (the small balls) halved
  • 1 pound fun shaped pasta, like fusilli
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

The finished product.


Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and shallot or garlic in a large bowl. Drain as much of the oil as possible from the now-empty mozzarella container, and add the seasonings to the olive oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar, if needed. Add the tomatoes and mozzarella and gently toss. Marinate at room temperature while you work on the rest of the ingredients.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs, reducing cooking time by 1 minute. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to cool the pasta; you don’t want to melt the cheese.

Add the pasta to the tomato mixture and toss. Stir in the basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally, until serving.

Note: Can be refrigerated overnight, but the flavors seem to fade. Whisk together 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp olive oil and toss with the salad to refresh the flavors. Re-season with salt and pepper.


The Tiny Kitchen Assistant actually loves this, in spite of the fact that his tomatoes have been touched by dressing. He likes to eat it with some grated parmesan on top, and really, grated parmesan never made anything taste worse. He’s on to something here.

It’s absolutely an adult-friendly pasta salad, a perfectly worthy contribution to the neighborhood potluck, or a light standalone meal on a hot night.

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