A warm caprese pesto pasta with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil is the perfect quick and easy pasta recipe for lunch or dinner.Jump to Recipe
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It’s no secret we love pasta. Maybe it’s just the Italian in me talking, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of pasta – especially since there are so many different ways to serve it! That’s why I’m constantly thinking about what new twist on pasta we should try next. Since it’s summer and we’ve been cooking with fresh tomatoes a ton lately, I thought, let’s turn caprese salad into a hot pasta recipe with pesto. And that’s how the Caprese Pesto Pasta was born.
This is not a recipe for cold caprese pasta salad – but it is a delicious twist on a caprese salad with hot pasta and basil pesto. It tastes so light and fresh, it makes the best summertime lunch or dinner. So if you’re looking for an easy new pasta dish, this recipe is perfect for you! There’s no better way to shake up your dinner rotation than with a delicious Italian meal that’s both super fresh and super easy.
Our quick caprese pesto pasta with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes comes together in under 25 minutes – keep reading to find out how!
Caprese Pesto Pasta Ingredients
Caprese is traditionally a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, so we added those components to a delicious hot pasta dish with pesto! Here’s a breakdown of exactly what we chose and why, plus tips on picking out the best ingredients:
- Fresh mozzarella balls – Those little balls of fresh mozzarella, sometimes labeled “mozzarella pearls,” are the best for this easy pasta dinner. Slice them into halves or quarters before tossing with the other ingredients.
- Campari tomatoes – You’ll want to use fresh, ripe tomatoes for the most flavor. We chose juicy, sweet Campari tomatoes for our caprese pasta, but any vine-ripened tomato works well.
- Fresh basil – Any good caprese salad needs fresh basil, so definitely don’t skip out on this ingredient! We use basil so often now that we have our very own basil plant at home. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment if you like to cook with basil – and know how to keep plants alive 🙂
- Extra virgin olive oil – There are many kinds of olive oil to choose from, with varying price ranges and flavor profiles. We like to use a mid-range Italian extra virgin olive oil for pasta dishes like this one, where you’ll notice the olive oil but it’s not the main flavor.
- Sea salt – Just a pinch of salt instantly brightens any dish. We added some salt to our caprese mixture to really bring out all those delicious flavors!
- Basil pesto – Basil pesto complements the flavors in caprese salad so well. We like to choose store-bought pestos that have fairly simple, straightforward ingredients for the best flavor.
- Rotini – Any short pasta works for this recipe (think penne, ziti, even cavatappi), but we recommend rotini! It’s a fun shape with great texture, which helps the pesto really cling to it for tons of flavor in every bite.
Tips For Making Our Caprese Pesto Pasta Recipe
Our easy caprese pasta recipe with pesto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil is pretty straightforward. But we have a few helpful tips for ensuring your success when making this quick and delicious pasta dinner:
- Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and salt in a small bowl before cooking the pasta. This is your caprese mixture (which is basically just a caprese salad). You’ll want to let this sit on the counter while the pasta boils so that all the flavors infuse and marinate together.
- A pinch of salt can really make a difference! You don’t need a lot, but just a sprinkle in the caprese salad before it rests will help bring out those fresh, juicy summer flavors from the tomato, basil, and mozzarella.
- Similarly, a pinch of salt in your pasta water can really level up your pasta game. No, you don’t need it – but you’ll taste the difference.
- Stir the basil pesto into the hot pasta immediately after draining, then add the caprese salad mixture. This will help the pesto incorporate and you’ll end up with a well-coated, warm pesto pasta.
Why This Caprese Pesto Pasta Is The Best Quick & Easy Dinner
There are tons of reasons why pasta makes the best quick, easy, and fresh homemade dinner. Our caprese pesto pasta uses only 6 simple ingredients, takes less than 25 minutes to prepare, and is relatively hands-off. It’s also a fairly cheap dinner, for 3 reasons:
- Caprese pesto pasta is vegetarian, so you don’t have to spend money on expensive meat.
- Chances are you already have some good olive oil laying around, just waiting to be used. (Did you know you should use olive oil within 30-60 days of opening for the best flavor?)
- Pasta is one of the best affordable pantry staples!
And while you might spend a little extra on fresh mozzarella and basil, these two ingredients are totally worth it. You can even invest in a small basil plant for about the same price as a ¾ oz package if you cook with it enough. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, as long as you know how to take care of it!
So if you’re looking for an easy pasta recipe to make for dinner on a busy weeknight, try our recipe for caprese pesto pasta below. Or, check out some of these other quick and easy pasta dishes with fresh tomatoes:
Don’t forget to rate, comment, and share if you love this recipe! We can’t wait to hear what you think of it.
Caprese Pesto Pasta
- 7 oz diced tomatoes*
- 4.5 oz fresh mozzarella balls* halved or quartered
- ½ oz fresh basil roughly chopped
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch sea salt
- ½ lb rotini
- ⅓ cup basil pesto
- First, prepare the caprese mixture. Add diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt to a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add rotini and cook until done, about 12 minutes.
- Drain the cooked pasta and return to the empty pot, removing it from heat. Add basil pesto and stir thoroughly until pasta is completely coated. Then add the caprese mixture to the pot and gently toss to combine.
- Serve immediately.