This recipe for Pasta Caprese is like the classic caprese salad but in pasta dish form. You’ll love it on a hot summer day when garden tomatoes and fresh summer basil are abundant. Learn how easy it is to prepare this pasta with tomatoes and mozzarella, tips for preparing this recipe, and what to serve with this caprese pasta for a fun, summer dinner party.
Making this Easy Pasta Caprese Recipe
Can you guess what I love best about summer? I’ll give you a hint. It’s NOT the heat.
My summer recipes tend to be simple without many complicated steps or ingredients. Summer is a busy time for our family and with two little busybodies at home cooking dinner isn’t something I want to spend a lot of time on.
I make this Caprese Pasta – Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella repeatedly during peak tomato and basil season. My husband and I find Caprese Pasta to be a sort of Summer comfort food for us.
Plus, it is a delicious dinner I don’t have to think hard about. And so year after year this Easy Caprese Pasta Dinner finds itself on the summertime menu at least a couple times a month.
What could be simpler than Caprese Pasta with just six ingredients? Six ingredients most any home cook will have on hand at any time during the summer months.
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Ingredients in Pasta Caprese
This pasta with tomatoes and mozzarella is full of fresh ingredients and summer flavors. You’ll need just a handful of ingredients to prepare it:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Yellow Onion
- Fresh Garlic
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.
What is the Best Pasta to Use?
Because this recipe relies on so few ingredients, using good quality pasta is what’s most important.
We’ve used a variety of short pasta shapes, like cavatappi (pictured here), farfalle, penne, or cellantani. But we’ve also used linguine and angel hair.
On a gluten-free diet? Make this dish gluten-free by substituting your favorite gluten free pasta.
What are the Best Tomatoes to Use?
What’s most important when making this pasta caprese is that you use fresh, ripe tomatoes.
The best time of year to prepare this dish is during the summer when you have access to fresh garden tomatoes or farmer’s market tomatoes. Summer’s tomatoes really are the tastiest!
Other than that, I say use what you like! We’ve made this with a variety of different tomatoes: grape tomatoes, sweet cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or Roma tomatoes. A mix of different colors and varieties makes a very pretty presentation.
How to Make Pasta Caprese
Here’s a quick overview of the steps to make this tomato mozzarella pasta recipe. It couldn’t be easier, which makes it perfect for weeknight meals!
- First, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Then, cook the pasta according to package directions. When finished, drain and set the cooked pasta aside.
- While the pasta cooks, sauté onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Then, add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes.
- After that, stir the tomatoes in and cook until they start to pop (if using cherry or grape tomatoes) or when they are juicy and tender.
- Next, stir in the balsamic vinegar and the cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove from eat and stir in the cheese and basil. Let the cheese heat through and melt just a tad. Serve with an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired.
The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.
Tips for Making the Best Pasta Caprese
Cook the pasta al dente – You’ll be adding the pasta to the pan with the tomatoes and basil, so you want to make sure you don’t end up with overcooked pasta.
Chiffonade that basil – This recipe uses a lot of fresh basil, so check out this kitchen tip for How to Quickly Chiffonade Fresh Herbs.
For the mozzarella – We’ve used mozzarella pearls, larger mozzarella balls, and even just cubed up a larger ball of fresh mozzarella cheese. Use what works for you!
Serve it right away – This dish is best served immediately after preparing it.
How to Store Leftover Pasta Caprese
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and used within 5 days of the date you prepared it. You can reheat the leftovers in the microwave or in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stove. Add a splash of olive oil and water if you need to loosen up the sauce.
I think this easy caprese pasta recipe is pretty perfect as it is, so I don’t have a lot of recipe adaptations to share. I think its beauty is in the minimal ingredients that provide a ton of flavor. But, here are a few ideas:
- Like meat? Add some balsamic marinated grilled chicken strips or some sliced, cooked Italian sausage.
- Want it more saucy? Stir in some basil pesto with a little leftover pasta water if you prefer more of a sauce.
What to Serve with this Pasta Caprese Recipe
This pasta caprese is perfect for a simple summer dinner party. Want to build a full dinner menu around this recipe? Here are my recommendations for wine, appetizers, salads, and even a tasty Italian dessert!
Wine Suggestions for this Caprese Pasta Recipe
Normally you might think to pair a red with this recipe, but for this light pasta recipe a red wine would overwhelm the fresh flavor of summer tomatoes and basil.
So, I would definitely recommend avoiding full-bodied or tannic wines and instead opt for something that’s acidic, light, and crisp. Though, I’m no sommelier. Crisp whites and rosé wines are good choices.
Appetizers to Serve with this Recipe for Pasta Caprese
Roasted Tomato Crostini with Walnut Almond Pesto and Goat Cheese is a great summer appetizer to serve with a glass of wine before dinner – perfect for a simple summer dinner party.
This easy recipe for Garlic, Thyme, and Rosemary Marinated Olives is another appetizer that is perfect for simple entertaining! It would also pair really well with this pasta caprese recipe.
Salads to Serve with this Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Dish
This recipe for Italian Mixed Greens Salad with Prosciutto features a mix of arugula, radicchio and baby kale is tossed with lemon Dijon vinaigrette and topped with crispy prosciutto and fresh shaved parmesan. Classic Italian flavors that pair wonderfully with this easy caprese pasta dinner!
Do you love Olive Garden’s famous house salad? Learn how simple this Copycat Olive Garden Salad Recipe is to make at home so you can enjoy your favorite flavors with this tomato mozzarella pasta.
Dessert to Go with Pasta Caprese
Round out your meal with this Italian Budino for dessert! Salted Caramel Budino is an easy Italian dessert. This recipe features a cookie crust that’s topped with vanilla pudding and then a layer of homemade caramel sauce.
Don’t see what you’re looking for here? You can always head over to check out the recipe index to look for more recipes.
Try this Pasta Caprese at Home!
Next time you’re looking for a way to use up summer’s fresh tomatoes and basil, give this recipe for pasta caprese a try! Did the whole family love it? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of this quick dinner recipe.
On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this delicious caprese pasta!
More Italian Recipes to Try
Looking for more easy pasta dishes? Here are a few that are popular with our whole family:
Arrabbiata Sauce is a simple, just-spicy-enough sauce you can make from pantry ingredients and serve with pasta – a great easy recipe when you need to get food on the dinner table fast.
One Skillet Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce is the perfect, easy comforting pasta dish. Baking it in a single skillet makes for quick preparation and very minimal clean up. Perfect for a busy weeknight dinner!
Italian Chicken, Mushroom, and Zucchini Skillet is a super easy dinner recipe for busy school nights. It features pan seared chicken tenderloins, zucchini and sliced mushrooms in garlicky herbed tomato sauce.
Spinach Mushroom Lasagna is an easy but impressive vegetarian dinner recipe that’s perfect for both holiday entertaining and weeknight dinners.
You can’t go wrong with spaghetti and marinara sauce! This is the Best Marinara Sauce! Crushed tomatoes simmer all day with extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper, plenty of garlic, and a generous helping of Italian red wine.
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- 16 ounces pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 20 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes,
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 1 c fresh mozzarella, diced (or here I used little balls of mozzarella)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain after cooked and set aside.
- Meanwhile, saute onions in olive oil until golden and tender, 5-7 minutes, over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and saute until the tomatoes start to pop. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn heat to low. Add the basil. Cook for 1-2 minutes so the juices can coat the pasta.
- Remove the pan from the heat off and stir in the mozzarella and basil. You want to warm the mozzarella, but do not melt it. Serve immediately.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 309Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 24mgSodium 553mgCarbohydrates 43gFiber 4gSugar 14gProtein 13g
GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.
This post was originally sponsored by American Express. To celebrate the launch of the new American Express Blue Cash® Preferred and Everyday cards I partnered with American Express to help consumers realize the potential of meals that can be made with 6 ingredients or less. The recipe contest and associated giveaway are now closed.