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bowl of caprese pasta salad with fresh basil

Caprese Pasta Salad

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Ready in less than 20 minutes, this caprese pasta salad is bursting with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and is smothered in homemade pesto. It’s the perfect side dish for a summer cookout!


  • 16 oz bowtie pasta
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest (from one lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 oz ciliegine mozzarella (cherry sized-mozzarella balls), quartered
  • Optional: balsamic reduction, for drizzling


  1. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to instructions on package, about 11-13 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until pasta is cooled.
  2. While pasta is cooking, in a food processor, add basil, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pulse to combine. With the machine running, slowly add olive oil. Blend until pesto is smooth.
  3. In a large serving bowl, toss pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto until dressing evenly coats the pasta. Serve at room temperature.
  4. Optional: drizzle with balsamic reduction.


  1. Make this recipe vegan by omitting the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and substitute with vegan cheese alternatives.
  2. You can swap out bowtie pasta for whole-wheat pasta or gluten-free pasta depending on your preferences.
  3. Add some grilled chicken or another protein to make this a complete meal!
  • Prep Time: 9 minutes
  • Cook Time: 11 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Salad
  • Cuisine: Italian