This Caprese Pasta Salad dressed with flavorful Italian Herb Vinaigrette will be heavy in the rotation on your summer menu. Packed with fresh tomatoes, peppers and a ton of herbs, it’s the perfect recipe for when you’re garden explodes!
Pasta salad is a hearty and fresh summertime dish that’s easy to make, requires almost no cooking (just boiling a little pasta) and tastes even better when you make it ahead of time. It’s perfect for weekday lunches, BBQ sides and a light dinner. Anytime is really a good time for a pasta salad.
This recipe was inspired by classic Caprese salad which is a simple mix of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. I added a bell pepper because I love the added crunch. The pasta is really just here to support the delicious summer veggies. The vinaigrette has tons of fresh basil and parsley blended up with garlic and shallots, creating a super tasty dressing that ties it all together.
Pasta salad is so flexible and customizable that the recipe below is really just a guideline. If you want to add more tomatoes, go for it. Need more cheese, it’s your world. Don’t like peppers, leave them out. There’s really no wrong way to make it.
See a full demo of me making it at Middlebury Farms with fresh veggies and herbs that were picked just that morning!
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Tips for making this pasta salad
Use bocconcini size fresh mozzarella cut into halves or quarters. If you can find the little mozzarella pearls, even better!
This is a fantastic recipe to make ahead. After you pull it all together, you definitely want to let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour to give the flavors time to come together and meld.
Don’t overcook your pasta. Mushy pasta will get even more mushy with the addition of fresh veggies so be careful to get it perfectly al dente.
Get good quality ingredients! This pasta salad is so simple, you can really taste every single thing that goes into it. Make sure you get sweet tomatoes, good mozzarella, really fresh herbs and good olive oil. You will be able to taste the difference.
Caprese Pasta Salad with Italian Herb Vinaigrette
- 12 oz cooked fusili pasta
- 2 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 8 oz bocconcini fresh mozzarella cut into quarters
- 1 large or two small bell peppers cut into bite sized pieces.
For the Dressing:
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup Italian flat leaf parsley
- 1 small shallot
- 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Add garlic, shallot, herbs and vinegar to a food processor or blender and pulse until chopped. Drizzle in olive oil and blend until herbs are very fine and dressing is emulsified. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and let cool completely. Do not rinse.
- Toss cooked pasta, veggies and about half of the dressing together and chill in the fridge for about an hour. Season with additional salt and pepper and add more dressing as needed before serving.