My husband loves Caprese salads, so this Caprese Pasta recipe was an easy sell. It has all the ingredients of his favorite “insalata Caprese”, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and ribbons of basil. What I love about this dish is that it is light fresh, easy, and versatile. It is just as good cold as it is hot!
This recipe is perfect all year round. In the winter I serve this hot, as an entrée or a side dish for Easy Herb Roasted Chicken or fish. In the summer this makes a wonderful pasta salad to go with Lemon, Garlic and Herb Grilled Chicken, Balsamic Marinated Pork Tenderloin, or a nice juicy hamburger.
What is Caprese?
Caprese literally means “from Capri”. Caprese is a popular Italian dish that is made of sliced fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. It is usually served as an antipasto rather than a side dish. This beautiful salad is thought to have originated on the island of Capri and is made in the colors of the Italian flag.
Caprese is not just limited to a salad. As in this recipe it can be a pasta dish, a pizza or even a sandwich. Normally it is made with a simple drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. But you will also see versions made with balsamic vinegar, pesto, or arugula.
Only a few ingredients make a delicious dish. Cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (cubed or balls), basil, garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil make a light, quick and easy sauce. Then pick your favorite pasta to go with it. I love to serve this this cheese tortellini.
How to make Caprese Pasta
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil.
- Add halved tomatoes to the olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes. Add a cup of pasta water to the sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
- When the pasta is done, drain it and toss the pasta in the sauce.
- Add the mozzarella and basil and drizzle with some additional olive oil. Serve the pasta with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
- If you want to serve this as a salad, leave it at room temperature for about an hour or refrigerate it for several hours and serve it cold. Toss well before serving it.
The recipe is perfect as is, but you can easily add to it to suit your taste.
Grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or Italian sausage make this a hearty entrée.
Drizzle a balsamic glaze on the pasta when you serve it, to give it a burst of flavor.
Mix in fried prosciutto or pancetta to add some salty notes to the dish.
Use any pasta shape that you have on hand. This is just as good with angel hair, spaghetti, rigatoni, ravioli, or orzo. Pick your favorite.
Want to make this gluten free? Serve it with zucchini noodles!
Try adding spinach and sundried tomatoes to the sauce. Sooo good!
There really are no limits to how versatile this recipe is.
I am not a nutritionist, but I can tell you that through my research I have found that there are health benefits associated with each of the ingredients that make up a Caprese. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and are a good source of potassium and vitamins A and K. They also contain antioxidants that help ward off cancer and keep your heart healthy. Basil contains essential oils which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and magnesium and it is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Mozzarella is a relatively low-calorie cheese and is an excellent source of calcium. As with anything, it is good to eat it in moderation.
Bruschetta is an antipasto dish of toasted bread topped with chopped tomato and basil. Caprese is a salad made of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
Other pasta recipes you will love:
Caprese Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella
- 1 lb. Tortellini or any pasta
- 5 tbsp. Olive Oil divided
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- ½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes optional
- 3 cups Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 8 oz. Mozzarella Fresh "ciliegine" balls or a larger cheese ball cubed
- 4 tbsp. Basil Fresh, cut in ribbons
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Cook tortellini according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste.
- When the pasta is done, reserve a cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the tomatoes. Mix well. Add pasta water if needed.
- Transfer the tortellini to a large serving bowl, add the fresh mozzarella, basil and remaining olive oil. Serve with grated pecorino romano cheese.
- If you want to serve this as a pasta salad, the pasta can be served at room temperature or covered and refrigerated for at least an hour. Toss well to distribute the sauce before serving.