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Caprese Pasta

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This Caprese Pasta is a recipe you can eat warm or cold. Pasta is mixed with garlic, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and coated in a delicious extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Your guests will love this as a main dish or a cold salad paired with grilled meats or seafood! 

Caprese Pasta in white bowl

CAPRESE PASTA 

Today’s Caprese Pasta recipe was one of the first recipes that I posted back in 2012. It is hard to believe it has been 8 years since I started this website. So much has changed and A Cedar Spoon has become so much more than I ever imagined thanks to all of you. 

I am excited to be sharing this updated recipe because it means spring is on its way! This recipe is the perfect spring and summer recipe using light, fresh ingredients. As we transition from winter to spring I am ready for lighter meals.

One of my favorite things about today’s pasta is that you can make it as a warm main dish for dinner and pair it with fresh bread and a Lemon Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts. Or you can make it as a cold dish and serve it alongside Shish Tawook chicken or a light seafood like this Baked Cod with Lemon

Caprese Pasta in glass bowl

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN THIS CAPRESE PASTA?

PASTA: You can choose whatever pasta you like. I used a red lentil rotini pasta which added protein to your dish. I also love the chickpea pastas or the vegetable pastas as an option. 

TOMATOES: The fresh tomatoes are one of the main ingredients in this recipe. I like to use smaller cherry tomatoes an cut them in half. If you let them simmer on the stove for a few minutes it helps soften then and bring out their sweet flavor. 

CHEESE: You can’t have a caprese recipe without fresh mozzarella. I found pearl mozzarella which is small balls of mozzarella that works perfectly in a caprese salad or a warm pasta dish. If you can’t find that feel free to use any mozzarella cheese and chop it small. I finish this dish off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

BASIL: In the summer months I grow fresh basil which is nice to have on hands for all your favorite salads and pasta dishes. If you make this in the colder months you can find fresh basil in the produce section of the grocery store. 

DRESSING: The dressing or sauce for this recipe uses extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano and crushed pepper {optional}. It creates a light, savory dressing that pairs so nicely with this dish. 

Caprese Pasta ingredients

HOW DO YOU MAKE THE COLD VERSION OF THIS CAPRESE PASTA?

You can easily take this recipe and make it cold. This is perfect as a side dish or salad to your meal. It comes together in 4 easy steps! 

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package until al dente. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside. 
  2. In a large mixing place the tomatoes, mozzarella and the pasta. 
  3. In a small mason jar or salad dressing container mix together the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, crushed red pepper {optional}, salt and pepper. Mix well. 
  4. Pour the dressing over the pasta and gently toss. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese and stir everything together. 

Caprese Pasta with spoon

MODIFICATIONS AND COOKING TIPS:

PESTO: Another option when making this pasta salad is to stir in 2 Tablespoons or more to taste of pesto. Pesto pairs really nicely with a pasta like this because it is light and adds nice flavor. 

PINE NUTS: Pine nuts are a great fishing touch for this dish. You can toast the pine nuts for a few minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat to bring more flavor out of them. 

CHEESE: There are other options when it comes to adding cheese to this dish. You can use shredded mozzarella or even swap the mozzarella all together with feta or goat cheese. It won’t be a traditional caprese anymore but it would be delicious. 

TOMATOES: If you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand you can use diced tomatoes in a can or try sun-dried tomatoes for extra flavor! 

PROTEIN: I love adding a protein to this pasta dish. Try grilled chicken, Lemon Salmon, shrimp or tofu for the vegetarians. 

BALSAMIC GLAZE: If you can your hands on balsamic glaze it is a great addition to pasta dishes. I just do a finishing drizzle of it when I am done cooking the recipe. 

Caprese Pasta Recipe with tomatoes

Caprese Pasta Recipe with tomatoes

Caprese Pasta

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This Caprese Pasta is a recipe you can eat warm or cold. Pasta is mixed with garlic, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and coated in a delicious extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Your guests will love this as a main dish or a cold salad paired with grilled meats or seafood! 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of pasta, I like to use a medium sized pasta
  • 8 ounces of pearl style mozzarella balls {or any fresh mozzarella chopped into small pieces}
  • 10 ounces of cherry tomatoes , cut in half
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar {optional}
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper {optional}
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

    Cold version:
    Cook the pasta according to the package until al dente. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.
    In a large mixing place the tomatoes, mozzarella and the pasta.
    In a small mason jar or salad dressing container mix together the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, crushed red pepper {optional}, salt and pepper. Mix well.
    Pour the dressing over the pasta and gently toss. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese and stir everything together.
    Serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you are storing in the fridge you may need to add a bit more olive oil and balsamic vinegar because the pasta will soak some of that up.

    Warm version:
    Cook the pasta according to the package. Drain and set aside.
    In a large skillet heat 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic in and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté until the tomatoes are just soft and begin to pop open. Stir in the pasta along with the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, crushed red pepper {optional}, salt and pepper. Add the basil, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.
    Remove from the heat and serve with crusty bread and a salad.

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