Make-Ahead Caprese Pasta Salad

This make-ahead caprese pasta salad recipe stretches the pricey mozzarella cheese that’s typically in abundance in caprese salad by adding lots of inexpensive but fun ditalini pasta.

This pasta salad can be make ahead, or mostly make ahead. Combine everything except for the mozzarella and basil. Cover and refrigerate. When it’s time to serve, give it a stir and a taste. The noodles may have soaked up all the dressing. Add more olive oil and lemon if needed. Top with the basil and mozzarella.

Make-Ahead Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe - An easy, affordable side dish recipe on COOKtheSTORY.com

If you like the looks of this caprese pasta salad, be sure to also check out this recipe for caprese salad with mozzarella crisps.

Caprese Salad with Mozzarella Crisps by @cookthestory

 

Enjoy this caprese pasta salad recipe!

Make-Ahead Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese salad, with its layers of fresh mozzarella and abundance of basil leaves can be expensive to serve to a crowd. This caprese pasta salad recipe stretches that pricey cheese by adding lots of inexpensive but fun ditalini pasta. The best part is that the pasta salad can be made the day before. But do wait until serving time before adding the basil and mozzarella so that neither one ends up soggy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Ditalini Pasta (or other small shape like elbow macaroni or bow ties)
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice, divided (and maybe a bit more to taste)
  • 5 tbsps olive oil, divided (and probably a bit more to taste)
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarse black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus a few extra leaves for garnish
  • ¾ lb. fresh mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta.
  2. While the pasta cooks, roughly chop the tomatoes. Transfer the tomatoes, along with any juices that accumulated while chopping, into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of coarse black pepper. Stir.
  3. Add the hot drained pasta to the tomatoes. Stir to combine. (Why add the pasta while it’s hot? It will immediately start sucking up the flavors you added to the bowl while also slightly cooking and softening the tomatoes, which will cause them to release more of their juices into the pasta.)
  4. Allow the pasta salad to cool to room temperature on the counter. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or for as little as 1 hour.
  5. Fifteen minutes before serving, remove the pasta from the fridge. Add the parsley, basil, the other tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir. Taste. Add more salt and pepper to enhance flavors if required. Add another tablespoon or two of olive oil for moisture if required. Add another teaspoon or two of lemon juice for a bit of tang and brightness if required. (I wish I could be more specific about the amounts here but it all has to do with how much liquid the pasta has sucked up, which depends on many things including how long it all rested together before being served. Just taste and trust your instincts. I have faith in you!).
  6. Slice the mozzarella cylinder in half lengthwise and then cut each cylinder into ¼ inch slices. Layer the mozzarella slices over the pasta salad. Drizzle the mozzarella with the final tablespoon of olive oil before enjoying it with friends.

12 Responses to “Make-Ahead Caprese Pasta Salad”

  1. Veronica — July 18, 2012 @ 5:50 pm (#)

    This pasta salad looks yummy! I’m going to make it for a potluck soon.

    • Christine Pittman — July 18, 2012 @ 5:51 pm (#)

      Veronica, It’s as yummy as it looks! Let me know how it turns out and how your fellow potluckers like it. Thanks for visiting.

  2. Katie — July 13, 2012 @ 2:54 pm (#)

    this recipe looks fantastic! I can’t wait to give it a try!

  3. Vanessa — July 12, 2012 @ 3:33 pm (#)

    I can’t wait to try this! I love caprese salad…

    • Christine Pittman — July 18, 2012 @ 11:22 am (#)

      Yay! V, I think I knew that you love it. So glad you found the post. Let me know if you try it out. I’d love your feedback.

  4. Michelle — July 12, 2012 @ 10:32 am (#)

    I’m glad you changed the setting back so I could read the whole post :)

    So glad to see you last night!

    • Christine Pittman — July 18, 2012 @ 11:22 am (#)

      Michelle, Thanks for telling me how annoying that was. I had no idea!!! So nice seeing you too.

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