Caprese Pasta Salad
This easy 5-ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad is the recipe you need for cookouts, barbecues, and potlucks this summer! The bright flavors of sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes, aromatic basil and fresh Mozzarella cheese really shine, and the hearty pasta and sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigrette finish this dish off beautifully. It’s great to have a few “go-to” simple recipes to bring to summer get togethers, and this Caprese Salad is definitely one of my favorites. It’s easy to make ahead and doesn’t require any on-site heat or preparation, and as a bonus it’s a real crowd pleaser! Plus, a 1 cup serving of this pasta salad is just 200 calories or 6 Green, 6 Blue, or 3 Purple WW (Weight Watchers) SmartPoints.
As I mentioned, my Caprese Pasta Salad is great to bring to a barbecue because it travels well and comes together easily using just a few ingredients. It also pairs really well as a side dish with meat off the grill. Whether you’re serving chicken, steaks, or burgers, they all taste great with Caprese Pasta Salad! I also love eating this salad as a tasty vegetarian lunch option, or sometimes I add chopped cooked chicken breast to turn it into a satisfying main course.
The fresh flavors of Caprese (also seen in my traditional Caprese Salad) are very simple, so using fresh, quality ingredients is key for getting the best flavor. Choosing ripe, juicy tomatoes and making sure your basil is fresh go a long way, as well as using a quality brand of fresh Mozzarella (I like BelGioioso). As for the balsamic component, I turned to one of my favorite salad dressings, Marzetti’s Simply 60 Balsamic Vinaigrette (not sponsored, I just really like it). I am picky about salad dressings and a lot of the lighter versions don’t taste great (in my opinion), but my husband and I both love this dressing. It’s sweet and tangy and a bit creamy with rich balsamic flavor. It doesn’t taste light at all and it works really well in this pasta salad! It’s also widely available in stores (from what I’ve seen), so you should be able to find it fairly easily. You can use a different light balsamic dressing if you have a favorite, but I definitely recommend checking out the Simply 60 version!
Looking for more tasty, lightened up salad recipes? Check out my Cobb Salad, Caprese Salad, Superfood Salad, Barbecue Ranch Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Chopped Salad with Peanut Dressing, Turkey and Pear Autumn Salad, Greek Chicken Quinoa Salad, Southwest Steak Salad, Avocado BLT Pasta Salad, Broccoli Salad, Strawberry Quinoa Salad, Taco Chicken Salad, and more in the Salads category of my recipe index.
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 8 oz uncooked small-medium shape pasta, I used radiatore (use whole wheat pasta if following the WW Purple plan)
- 13 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 7 oz drained fresh Mozzarella cheese pearls, I used BelGioioso (if you can’t find the pearls you can cut fresh Mozzarella into small cubes)
- ¼ cup sliced fresh basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup light balsamic vinaigrette dressing, (I use and recommend Marzetti Simply 60 Balsamic Vinaigrette)
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Transfer pasta to a colander and drain. Rinse under cold water until the pasta is cooled and drained.
- Transfer the cooled pasta to a serving bowl and add the tomatoes, Mozzarella, and basil. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top and then pour in the balsamic vinaigrette*. Use a large spoon to stir together until the ingredients are mixed and coated in the dressing. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.*If making ahead to serve the next day, you may want to wait to add the dressing until serving so that it doesn’t get absorbed by the pasta and dry out. Any leftover pasta salad should last three days in the fridge.
6 per serving (PP calculated using a Weight Watchers PointsPlus calculator and the nutrition info below) Nutrition Information per serving: 200 calories, 26 g carbs, 5 g sugars, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 9 g protein, 2 g fiber, 183 mg sodium (from myfitnesspal.com)