Caprese Pasta

Caprese. Pasta. There is virtually no better use of fresh tomatoes and basil than this simple dish. And when I say simple, I mean SIMPLE.

It’s basic math:





I have my dear friend Krysta to thank for this, and thank her I do, profusely, multiple times per summer, since 2008 when I first saw it on her blog.

Caprese Pasta


There are no set amounts here. It’s all up to you. This is what you will need:

Dry pasta
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Shredded mozzarella


Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain well. Pour into a medium bowl, squirt a bit of olive oil on it, toss and let cool to room temperature.

Cut up the tomatoes and chiffonade the basil. Mix together in a large bowl, soak with olive oil, and add salt and pepper, to taste. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, perhaps while the pasta cools off.

Pour the cooled pasta into the bowl with the tomato basil mixture. Combine well, taste (try not to eat the whole bowl right then and there), and add more salt and/or pepper, if needed. Add shredded mozzarella and toss.

Funnel into mouth.

Have I convinced you yet that you need this in your life? Seriously? Do you need me to come over there and smack you around a little?


1. Use an appropriate pasta shape. Long noodles not recommended. After the first year of making this with all kinds of shapes, I declared medium shells my absolute favorite. Rotini and penne and orzo also work, but they all still rank far behind the shells, for me.

2. Use the best tomatoes available. And not Roma. Seedy, juicy vine ripe ones, in season. When I am a bit out of season, I use grape or cherry or, as seen in this post, baby heirlooms, which were just… oh man… refer back to picture of Homer.

3. Use shredded mozzarella. I love fresh mozzarella, but not in this dish. NO. I’ve seen this done with fresh, in recipes online or on TV, and I just don’t get it. I made it with fresh myself, just to see, and learned the hard way – twice. Wrongity wrong wrong wrongness. Don’t do it.

Variation: Try it as is first, then try it with chopped chicken tossed in. *Cries*


21 thoughts on “Caprese Pasta

  1. the short people ALWAYS prefer medium shells, but alas, there are no shelly gluten free pastas 'round these parts. blast.

    i'mma go set up the cheese factory…


  2. It turns into a gloppy mess and the flavor simply does NOT shine through. I've tried it twice. Krysta tried it in hers once, I believe, and came up with the recommendation before I did. Feel free to use it if you prefer, but this is the way I do it and I will no longer deviate to fresh.


  3. That graphic of Homer. LOL. I picture him (and hear his gurgling of pure gluttony) whenever I make something worth devouring. Classic. I make a similar dish to this – you're right, you just cannot go wrong with fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. I could eat this every day 😀


  4. Ha, comedy. Nicely done, Melissa. The “try not to eat the whole bowl right then and there” advice is easier said than done – was just making pasta salad last week and found myself devouring it as soon as the last sprinkle of salt was in the bowl.


  5. Thanks, Pam!

    Jeff – Thank you much! And I hear you loud and clear – any time I make pasta or grain with vegetables, herbs, salt, oil, etc., it takes all my willpower not to just pick up the prep bowl and pour the whole into my mouth. HEH.


  6. OMG I hate you! 🙂 I can't keep up with all the stuff I want to cook, but this just rose to the very top of the list. I have a gardenful of cherry/grape tomatoes AND….four big basil plants!! I'm making this this weekend! And I don't even have to go to the store 🙂


  7. Not all that long. He'd have to eat this on the first day of traveling, for sure.

    If you're wanting to give him healthy meals to drive with, I'd say make couscous (or quinoa or pasta or brown rice) + chicken + vegetables + oil and herbs. Things like that. You can't go wrong and they last well and can be eaten at room temperature, too!


  8. Incredible! I made this for the first time yesterday, adding (as per your suggestion) a couple of chicken breasts, cubed and sauteed in olive oil and a little bit of garlic. I also added a generous splodge of lemon juice to the tomato/basil/olive oil mixture as it was soaking, and the citrus acidity cutting through the flavors of the other vegetables was really nice. Thanks for a great recipe!


  9. Scott, that makes me so happy to hear! I love love passing this combo along. So glad you enjoyed, especially with the chicken – and the lemon juice was genius!


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