The deli at one of our local markets makes a Caprese Pasta Salad that I cannot get enough of, but my wallet has certainly gotten enough of me buying it over and over and over again. And that usually means it’s time to make my own version at home. Here it is – a pasta salad with everything I love about that deli’s version, and that includes bite-sized pearls of fresh mozzarella, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a basil and white balsamic dressing that I’m head over heels in love with.
We all know what makes a caprese great – it’s that signature combo of tomatoes, milky mozzarella, and fresh basil. You get all that here, sure. But it’s all tied together with a dressing that I could write sonnets about and that’s really what makes this salad special.
I’m going to focus on the dressing for a minute, because you’ll want to put it on everything, I promise. You’ll need: lots of basil (like two cups), some garlic, a shallot, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar. Now, the white balsamic isn’t absolutely essential, you could use traditional, but it keeps the dressing from looking muddy and it has a cleaner, milder flavor.
To make the dressing? Blend all those ingredients together. That’s it. It’s sweet, a little tart, and just tastes so vibrant and green. A fusilli, gemelli, or other curly pasta does a great job of catching all of it, and trust me, you’re going to want to capture as much of it as you can. It’s a show-stopper.
Caprese Pasta Salad
10m prep time
20m cook time
- 12 oz curly pasta, such as cavatappi, gemelli, rotini, or fusilli
- 1 lb grape or cherry tomatoes
- 8 oz mozzarella pearls
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, julienned
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the dressing:
- 2 cups basil leaves, packed
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small shallot
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing:
- Combine basil, garlic, shallot, vinegar, salt, and olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- Once pasta has cooled, add to a serving bowl along with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Add dressing as desired and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!