Italian Caprese Pasta Salad

Yesterday it rained properly for the first time in weeks, and today we woke up to cool misty weather. It wasn’t long, of course, before the sun burst through, but it was a little hint that my favourite season of all, autumn, is on the horizon. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next person, but the cool mornings and sunny days of early autumn are when I am happiest.

The farmers here in Italy are rushing to bring in the tomato harvest, with the markets overflowing with bright red produce. Every second vehicle on the road seems to be a truck piled high with mountains of tomatoes, shedding a few every time they take a corner. I couldn’t resist loading up on a few different varieties when we went shopping, and the juicy little cherry tomatoes were perfect for my recipe today: Italian Caprese Pasta Salad.

Now, this salad is more a combination of ideas than any genuine Italian recipe, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Short pasta is tossed with a tangy pesto dressing, then combined with all those wonderfully summery Italian flavours: sweet tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and spicy fresh basil. It’s good and bursting with flavour.

Because pasta salads are generally served cold, I have boosted the tomato flavour by adding sun-dried tomatoes into the mix. Tangy capers and a grating of fresh Parmesan round everything out. This salad is excellent served just by itself, but it’s also fantastic to bring to a barbecue or picnic, or for portioning up to take to work. As always, it’s important to taste as you go along and season to taste.

Have you seen any signs of autumn approaching? Or is it still high summer where you are? Let me know in the comments below! xJ

Italian Caprese Pasta Salad

Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!

Italian Caprese Pasta Salad

Italian Caprese Pasta Salad

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

A deliciously light and bright summer meal, Italian Caprese Pasta Salad is bursting with flavour and perfect for serving at your next barbecue or picnic.


  • 300g short pasta
  • 150g basil pesto
  • 75ml red wine vinegar
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 100g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 4 Tbsp capers
  • 150g bocconcini (drained weight)
  • small bunch of fresh basil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • freshly grated Parmesan


    1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until just al-dente, then drain and cool under cold running water. Whisk together the pesto, 50ml of the vinegar and 50ml of the olive oil in a large mixing bowl, then toss through the pasta until well coated. Set aside.
    2. Halve the cherry tomatoes, then toss together with the oregano, remaining vinegar and oil and a good few grinds of salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for at least 5 minutes, then stir the tomatoes and their liquid through the pasta.
    3. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes roughly, then add to the bowl along with the capers. Stir to combine then pour the mixture onto a serving platter.
    4. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary, then scatter over the drained bocconcini and torn basil leaves. Chill until ready to eat. Grate over fresh Parmesan just before serving, if using.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 648Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 766mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.


How long in advance can I prepare Italian Caprese Pasta Salad?

Pasta salads are fantastic for preparing in advance. It will last several days in the fridge, though I would only add the fresh basil just before serving. The pasta will absorb the dressing over time so if you are wanting to keep the salad for a longer time, make up a little bit more of the dressing to freshen it up before serving.

What sort of pasta should I use to make Italian Caprese Pasta Salad?

Any short pasta will do. In the photos, I have used rigate, as the tubes fill up with all the delicious dressing, but you can use what you have to hand. Remember to cook the pasta to just al-dente, if the pasta is overcooked the texture of the salad can be too soft.

I can’t get bocconcini! What can I use instead?

If you can’t get the small mozzarella balls, use fresh mozzarella torn into pieces.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes! This is an excellent recipe for feeding a crowd. It is always worth mixing up a little more of the pesto, vinegar and oil dressing to serve alongside.

If you can’t find bocconcini mozzarella, simpy tear fresh mozarella balls into pieces.

Italian Caprese Pasta Salad
Italian Caprese Pasta Salad


Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author, food photographer and Le Cordon Bleu Gastronomy and Nutrition graduate. Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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