Caprese Pasta Salad is a famous Italian pasta salad recipe, really easy to make. You need only 5 ingredients to make this recipe: tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil and durum wheat short pasta. Add some high quality extra virgin olive oil and you get a soo good caprese pasta salad!
For an excellent result you need excellent ingredients! So buy some tasty ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and excellent extra virgin olive oil. The basil must be fresh; all the better if you have a basil plant at home.
Choose a high quality pasta. The important thing is that it’s short pasta because it cooks better al dente. We chose farfalle pasta but you can use the shape you prefer such as fusilli or penne that can be great with this type of dressing.
You can make a pasta salad in many ways: with many types of vegetables, with fish, with various types of cheese, with eggs, with olives…according to everyone’s tastes or according to your imagination.
Caprese Pasta Salad, however, is the most classic and traditional of pasta salads, the simplest and the most appreciated for its delicacy and freshness. Ideal for the hot season, it’s an excellent fresh light single dish.
Now let’s see together how to make the authentic Italian recipe of Caprese Pasta Salad.
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How to Make Caprese Pasta Salad
- Prep Time: 10 Min + 15 Min rest/cooling time
- Cook Time: 12 Min
- 350 g (12,4 oz) of farfalle durum wheat pasta (good also fusilli or penne)
- about 300 g (10,6 oz) of ripe tomatoes (vine, grape or cherry tomatoes)
- about 300 g (10,6 oz) of fresh high quality Buffalo Mozzarella or Fior di latte mozzarella
- 6/8 fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of fine salt
- a little ground black pepper (optional)
- A few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)
Step 1) – Preparing the Caprese Pasta Salad is quick and easy. Let’s see. First wash the tomatoes. Cut them and remove the seeds. Then cut the pulp into pieces and collect them in a mesh colander. Salt them a little and let drain their water for about 10 minutes. This step is necessary so that the tomatoes do not release their water while you are seasoning the pasta.
Step 2) – Meanwhile, cut the mozzarella into cubes and let lose its watery whey by placing the pieces of mozzarella in a colander for about 10 min.
Step 3) – While you are waiting for those 10 minutes, in a large pot bring abundant salted water to a boil. Remenber you need 1 liter of water with 10 g (1 teaspoon) of coarse salt per 100 g of dry pasta. Pour the pasta and cook following the cooking times described on the package.
Step 4) – Drain when al dente and place the pasta in a large salad bowl. Season first with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, mix well and let it cool. If you are in a hurry and you cannot wait to let it cool or you think it’s not al dente enough, after having drained the pasta, pass it under cold water to stop the cooking. For more information about this trick see the paragraph below “How to Drain and Cool the Pasta”.
Step 5) – Now add the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves coarsely broken with your hands. Season with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and mix. Let it rest in a cool place for about 15 minutes, so that it takes on flavor.
Complete with freshly ground black pepper and if you like a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Caprese pasta salad is ready! Mix well and serve!
You can keep Caprese Pasta Salad in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2 days in an airtight container. We do not recommend freezing.
Caprese Pasta Salad: How to Cook Pasta in the Best Way
Fresh colorful and full of flavor, caprese pasta slad is one of the must-have dishes of the summer. It’s perfect for all occasions, from garden parties to days spent at the beach, without forgetting picnics and aperitifs with friends.
However, having the right combination of ingredients and optimal cooking, do not let the pasta stick or drain it too al dente or overcooked, are all challenges that even for the most trained cook can become difficult. So here are some tips and tricks on how to cook pasta for pasta salad.
What Type of Pasta
Surely the most suitable pasta shape is the short one, for example fusilli, farfalle, penne, tortiglioni or rigatoni. Long pasta shapes, such as spaghetti or linguine, are not good for pasta salads, as they tend to stick together and do not keep cooking for long.
In addition to the format, the quality of the pasta is important. The perfect type is bronze-drawn dry durum wheat pasta. Don,t use fresh egg pasta for this type of preparation.
How to Drain and Cool the Pasta
The success of a good caprese pasta salad or pasta salads in general, depends not only on the quality of the pasta as suggested above, but also on its cooking and cooling.
For this type of preparation the pasta should be drained a little more al dente than the cooking time indicated on the package, about 2 minutes less.
If you are not in a hurry, it’d be better not to pass the pasta under cold water to cool it. Better to drain it well and let it cool in a container and mix it with a little olive oil so that it does not stick.
Why is it better to cool the pasta at room temperature and not under a jet of cold water? Because this operation would remove the layer of starch present on the pasta, necessary to bind the condiments and the pasta would lose its consistency and flavor.
However, if you cannot wait, cool the pasta under a jet of cold water, taking care to drain it very well and adding salt to the cooking water a little more than normal.
Make Ahead Caprese Pasta Salad
Despite being a dish that looks perfect to be stored and eaten over and over, caprese pasta salad doesn’t get better with excessive rest. In fact, the more time passes, the more pasta loses its tone and becomes sticky.
Not to mention that tomatoes and mozzarella, if left too long in the refrigerator, become mushy due to the seasoning (salt and oil). And it is not true that if tomatoes and mozzarella release water then the pasta absorbed it. The pasta is cooked. It no longer accepts water.
So if you don’t want a runny, soggy and not very tasty caprese pasta salad, you should prepare it no more than 2-3 hours ahead of time: in the morning for lunch or in the afternoon for dinner.
Finally you should enjoy pasta salad at room temperature and NOT as soon as it is removed from the refrigerator.