There’s no question that some of the simplest classic flavor combinations make the best meals. Ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil combine in a multitude of ways to create fabulous dishes. Caprese style pasta is nothing particularly revolutionary, but this recipe is by far my favorite rendition of this happy trio.

The brilliance of this recipe is in the use of the tomatoes three different ways – fresh, roasted, and blended into the vinaigrette that dresses the dish. This provides a multi-layered tomato flavor that takes this far beyond versions with only fresh tomatoes mixed in. The vinaigrette is seriously irresistible with a smoky sweetness nicely complemented by the brightness of the fresh basil and the rich fresh mozzarella.

I’ve been playing around with and tweaking my version of this recipe since this time last year and am happy to finally share it with you all. It’s a perfect way to make use of late summer tomatoes, and also a nice comforting dish in colder months when grape or cherry tomatoes are the only kind worth buying at the grocery store. If you opt to make the entire thing at once, it makes for an enjoyable leisurely cooking experience. If you are planning to enjoy this on a weeknight, roast the tomatoes the night before or the morning of. The remainder comes together very quickly, making this totally doable on a busy evening.

  • Prep 20 minutes
  • Cook 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield 6-8 servings


  • 4 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes, divided
  • 8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. pasta shapes, such as casarecce
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into small chunks
  • 1½ oz. Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or coarsely chopped


  • 01

    Heat the oven to 350˚ F. In a baking dish, combine 2 cups of the halved tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with kosher salt and a pinch of sugar. Toss well, then transfer to the oven to roast, stirring a few times. Cook 45-60 minutes, until the tomatoes are shriveled and beginning to brown or blacken. Remove and set aside to cool to room temperature.

  • 02

    Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. In the meantime, make the vinaigrette. Add the garlic and the vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add in ¼ cup of the roasted tomatoes, the red pepper flakes, and the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

  • 03

    Once the pasta water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well. Rinse briefly with cool water to cool off the pasta, and drain again.

  • 04

    While the pasta is cooking, place the remaining 2 cups of tomatoes in a large bowl. Season well with salt and toss to combine. Let stand while the pasta cooks.

  • 05

    Once the pasta has cooled so that it is warm but not hot, add it to the large bowl with the fresh tomatoes. Stir in the vinaigrette, remaining roasted tomatoes, Parmesan, mozzarella, and two thirds of the basil. Mix until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Top with the remaining fresh basil. Serve with additional grated Parmesan as desired.

  • 06


    • If you are sensitive to or not a fan of raw garlic, consider mixing the minced garlic in with the tomatoes while roasting. It deepens and mellows the garlic flavor. I prefer the slight bite of fresh garlic, but macerating in the vinegar as I have indicated will help tone it down some.
    • I buy the small balls of fresh mozzarella because they are easy to quickly tear into pieces just the right size for this dish.