The great flavors of a Caprese salad plus pasta make a fantastic late summer side dish. These are the same flavors that make dishes like chicken parmesan and turkey Florentine pasta bake so irresistible.
This time of year, I am looking for any and all ways to make use of my gorgeous garden tomatoes. Tomatoes and basil are a perfect match, and we all know how well they go with mozzarella. There is a reason we love lasagna and other ooey-gooey tomato-based pasta dishes.
Other than boiling the pasta, this dish takes no time at all. Chop a few ingredients, stir, and done.
Penne Pasta: Any medium-sized tubular pasta would work, I just happen to like penne. I typically use whole wheat pasta.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes: I love the intense tomato flavor that sun-dried tomatoes add to this dish. You can buy them jarred or in a pouch.
Fresh Tomatoes: I used small chopped tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes chopped in half would be excellent. The fresh tomatoes combined with sun-dried really amp up the flavor.
Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar makes everything better. It adds a great sweet and smoky element to the dish.
Olive Oil: Olive oil and vinegar create a wonderful vinaigrette to bring the ingredients together.
Garlic & Red Onion: Add great savory flavor.
Red-Pepper Flakes: Just a bit of heat.
Fresh Basil, Parsley, and Oregano: Use what you like. If you don’t like basil I am guessing a Caprese salad wouldn’t appeal to you. I like the combination of basil, parsley, and oregano for that classic Italian flavor.
Fresh Mozzarella: I used mozzarella pearls. They work so well in this pasta salad. Any fresh mozzarella would be great.
You will start with your pasta. Give your sun-dried tomatoes a rough chop as they are added to the pot along with pasta for the last 3-4 minutes. This plumps them up a bit. If you are using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil this step wouldn’t be necessary.
Chop and prep the rest of the ingredients and add to a medium bowl. Once the pasta is done, drain and add to the bowl. Pasta can be served immediately, at room temperature and cold.
Caprese pasta salad is a delicious side with grilled chicken. I also served a simple iceberg wedge salad.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 1¼ cups dry penne pasta
- 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1½ cups fresh tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp red onion finely chopped
- ½ tsp red-pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil chopped
- 2 tsp fresh parsley chopped
- 2 tsp fresh oregano chopped
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- Start by cooking the pasta according to package instructions. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes with 3-4 minutes left in the pasta time. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine chopped fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, red onion, red pepper flakes and the fresh herbs. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Add the pasta to the other ingredients and stir to combine. Add the fresh mozzarella and stir again.