Caprese Pasta Salad with pesto is a healthy and easy 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad. Made with tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and your favorite basil pesto this easy vegetarian meal or side dish comes together in a snap for everything from a summer meal to a potluck.
Caprese Pasta Salad - 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad
Caprese Pasta Salad with pesto is one of my all-time favorite recipes. This 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad recipe comes together in only 20 minutes and could not be easier to make and is absolutely ideal no-fuss simple summer vegetarian meal or side dish. Serve this at dinner, a picnic, bbq, or a potluck.
This recipe comes together in a flash. All you have to do is boil your favorite tender pasta noodles... I like bowties. Toss the pasta with the freshest vine-ripened tomatoes you can find, creamy fresh mozzarella cheese, and your favorite pesto (homemade or storebought.) If I have fresh basil I use that too. This pasta salad takes the fuss out of it and makes it a hearty meal ANYONE will love. Who can go wrong with a 4 ingredient recipe?
This EASY pasta salad recipe is my personal go-to for most summer potlucks and it also shows up at our dinner table a few times a season. This is the kind of recipe that's plant-based but is still super hearty pleasing to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. It disappears everywhere I take it.
This recipe is an ode to all things simple and summer... and you really can't go wrong.
Why You'll Love this 4 Ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad with Pesto...
- My Caprese Pasta Salad with Pesto is a 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad. It doesn't get easier than that!
- This entire recipe takes only 20 minutes to make.
- It's a great way to use a bunch of fresh cherry tomatoes.
- You can keep it simple and use pre-made pesto or mix your own depending on how much time you have. You can also add fresh basil if you have it!
- It's a great dish to feed a crowd.
- It's basically the best of summer in a delicious bowl. The texture and flavor is perfection.
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make my 4 Ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad with pesto. Keep scrolling for the complete recipe ingredients and directions.
- Pasta: The best kind of pasta for this recipe is a short pasta like bowtie, cavatappi, spiral, shell, elbow macaroni, penne, or rotini pasta. I really love the bowtie pasta for this. You can healthy or unhealthy as you'd like using standard white pasta, whole grain, or even gluten-free to make the recipe gluten-free. I like this protein pasta or this chickpea pasta. But your favorite works well too. I've even made it before with frozen cheese tortellini... which you can imagine was kind of a dream.
- Tomatoes: The tomatoes really bring the flavor to this dish so use the freshest ones you can find. You can use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes are nutritional powerhouses filled with antioxidants and vitamin c.
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella is a necessity for this 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad. Use either the small balls or pearl-sized ones. If you can't find that, you can cube a larger ball of cheese.
- Pesto: Use your favorite store-bought pesto if you are in a hurry OR make my Basil Almond Pesto if you have time. Use extra virgin olive oil to make your pesto.
- Fresh Basil: If you have fresh basil leaves, it's a wonderful addition to this dish! It is optional though. The extra basil is even optional if you happen to be making this when basil is not in season. Fresh herbs bring this to life.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Most pestos are salty already, so just add what you need to taste.
Here's an overview on how to make 4 Ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad with pesto. The complete directions are in the recipe card below.
- Boil your pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water. Drain the pasta and run the cooked pasta under cold water and set it aside to cool.
- Cut your tomatoes in half and slice your fresh basil.
- In a large serving bowl, stir together the pasta, pesto, fresh basil, and tomatoes.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.
I love this 4 Ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad with pesto recipe as written, but here are some fun variations.
- Make it Gluten Free: To make it gluten-free just use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
- Make it Richer: You can make this whole dish a bit richer by adding either some balsamic vinegar or a drizzle of balsamic glaze before serving.
- Make it Healthier: To make this Caprese Pasta Salad a bit healthier serve it on a big pile of your favorite greens like spinach, arugula, or baby kale.
- Make it Without Pesto: Don't like pesto? Make the 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad with your favorite salad dressing or pasta salad dressing like my Zesty Italian Dressing or Red Wine Vinaigrette. You can also add some fresh homemade Italian Seasoning to it.
- Mix Up the Veggies: Classic Caprese just has tomatoes, but you can add so many different things to bring different flavors to this easy pasta salad including kalamata olives, black olives, avocado, cucumber, red onions, garlic, or even bell pepper.
- Make it Cheesy: Add some extra parmesan cheese on top or even feta cheese.
- Make it Meaty: Add your favorite Italian meats like salami or pepperoni. You can even add chicken.
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftovers for this 4 Ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad recipe in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes! This is a fabulous recipe to make for a crowd. I've doubled and even triples this before. You'll just need a very large bowl. Make it once and eat it for a few days OR bring it to a potluck. From experience I know it's a hit! And even though the flavors are more summery I've even brought this to a Christmas party before because of the red, white, and green. It's SO easy to make if you need a dish in a pinch.
Can you make pasta salad the day before?
Yes! You can make this 4 ingredients pasta salad ahead of time but you might need to add a bit of olive oil or additional pesto to the dish to bring it back to life. You can alternatively just toss the pasta in half of the pesto and add the rest right before serving. This trick isn't really necessary if you are making this ahead a few hours, but overnight I'd definitely do it.
Why is my pasta salad dry?
When you make pasta salad ahead of time and store it in the fridge the pasta had a tendency to soak up whatever dressing (or in this case pesto) is coating the pasta. It then appears to be dried out. My trick to overcome this is to only toss the pasta salad with half of the dressing or pesto ahead of time. When it's time to serve the dish toss it with the rest of the pasta.
Caprese Pasta Salad with Pesto is the BEST 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad Recipe!
I hope you enjoy this taste of summer - Caprese Pasta Salad with pesto -as much as I do. You really can't go wrong with this crazy easy 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad that's vegetarian but hearty enough for meat-eaters too. Serve this as a complete meal or a side dish with any of the dishes below. This really is one of the best pasta salads you will ever try.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.
Make it a Meal:
- BBQ Shrimp Skewers
- Portobello Mushroom Burger
- Lemon Pesto Salmon
- Blackened Mahi Mahi
- Cajun Shrimp Burgers
More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes to Try:
- Bruschetta Pasta Salad
- Healthy Macaroni Salad
- Crab Pasta Salad
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- Tex Mex Pasta Salad
- Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
More Caprese Recipes to Try:
- Caprese Wheat Berry Salad
- Grilled Peach Caprese Salad
- Caprese Crustless Quiche
- Avocado Caprese Salad
Caprese Pasta Salad with Pesto - 4 Ingredient Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and set aside to cool.
- Once the pasta is cool toss the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and fresh pesto together.
- Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. If in season toss and garnish with additional fresh chopped basil.
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