Well, it only took me a year plus a few months…today I’m finally sharing a recipe I first mentioned back when I posted about Andrew’s third birthday party.  This caprese pasta salad was a sort of last minute addition to the menu.  I didn’t use a recipe at the time, just threw it together on the fly.  Then I mentioned it but didn’t post the recipe and ever since, I have received countless comments, emails, etc. asking inquiring about the recipe.  I wanted to make it again and post about it right away but the problem is that I’m constantly overflowing with recipe ideas, plus the numerous great ideas suggested by my lovely readers, and as a result, some things just don’t get done.  This didn’t get done and didn’t get done and finally last week I said enough, this is happening.

Hopefully it will be worth the wait.  Since I had time to consider the best approach, I refined my take on the dish a little bit and we loved the way it turned out.  It’s simple as can be and it’s a lovely way to make use of the tomatoes finally ripening in the garden.  The dressing is a simple mix of garlic-infused olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar.  An ideal contribution to those upcoming Labor Day cookouts, yes?


  • 1 lb. pasta shapes, such as shells, bow ties, etc.
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 01

    Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain well.  Rinse with cold water.  Drain again.  Meanwhile, in a small skillet, combine the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat.  Warm the oil slowly and let infuse with the garlic and chile flavors, about 5-10 minutes.  Do not let the garlic burn.  Set aside to cool slightly.

  • 02

    Add the pasta to a large bowl.  Toss with the olive oil mixture, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil until evenly combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

  • Jacqueline

    I love caprese salad and make a similar pasta salad, but don’t add the balsamic or chilli, so I will have to re-think it next time :)

  • Michele

    This looks great! Thank you sharing your recipe. How far in advance did you make it for the party?

  • Sara

    This looks great! I think I’ll try it for my twins’ b-day party on Saturday. I just had one question for you. Does the flavor get any better if you make the salad up a few hours (or a day) ahead and refrigerate? Thanks!

  • Jean

    de-lurking to say I’m making this right now. Yum!

  • Justeen

    such a lovely, simple pasta, and perfect for a party! I love how you infused the olive oil with garlic and red pepper. sounds delicious!

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes

    This sounds great! Love the garlic infused oil idea

  • YESsss. I love learning new ways that I can eat Caprese salad! I love this original idea, Annie :)

  • Becky

    Delicious! I just made some skewered caprese bites that were a huge hit at a graduation party. This looks perfect as a side dish for my next get together. :) thanks for sharing!

  • Perfect re-invention recipe to use up some of my homegrown basil and tomato surplus. Used mini-farfale (mini bow ties) and pearl-sized mozzarella. Highly recommend.

  • Laura

    I made this today for a labor day potluck and it was perfect for the occasion, like you said. Everyone loved it and I love how simple it was to make yet so delicious.

  • Jennifer Y.

    I made this over the weekend for a small bbq we were hosting. The pasta salad got lots of complements and I loved how quick and easy it was to assemble. And I thought it tasted better the next day, so next time I will make it a day in advance.

  • Laura

    I have the same question, how many days in advance could I make this? I am planning my mothers 60th birthday (surprise) party and would love to be able to make as much as possible the day before Thanks!! :)

  • annieseats

    At least a day.

  • erinrose

    Made this about a week ago and loved it! My husband and his friend asked for seconds which is always nice to hear :) I added a bit more balsamic because I like the taste of it, but it had a great taste before I even made the adjustment. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Melissa Brooker

    I made this for a work potluck, I came home with none left! Delish!