“Not” Caprese Pasta Salad


I have been making the Caprese Pasta Salad on our blog for a few years now and it’s Mark’s favorite pasta side dish.  The problem with making it is that it calls for “slow roasted tomatoes” and that takes up to 3 hours in the oven.  So making this dish on a week night is really out of the question for people who work.  Well, I came up with the thought to use fresh grape tomatoes and we found that we like this version better.

And you will notice I’m using my fine china for the picture!


    1 (10 ounce) box Bow Ties (I used the spiral noodles because that’s what I had on hand)
    1/2 cup Basil Pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe below)
    1 cup grape tomatoes (We like more of the tomatoes, so I used about 2 cups, and you could also use any tomato)
    8 ounces Mozzarella Pearls or Bocconcini
    Aged Balsamic Vinegar, optional
    Sea Salt
    Freshly ground black pepper


Cook pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling, salted water, 7-9 minutes. Drain pasta, shaking to remove excess water, and then place the pasta into a medium-sized bowl. Add the basil pesto, and toss until the pesto coats each and every piece of pasta. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature, 30-40 minutes (you don’t want to melt the mozzarella).
Once the pasta has come to room temperature, add the tomatoes and mozzarella pearls. Toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
You can serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (it’s good cold or at room temperature). If you like, drizzle the salad (or the edges of the plate) with a little Balsamic vinegar to taste, just before serving.


Tomato Seasoning:

  • 1 pint Yellow Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Garlic Powder to taste
  • 2 TSP marjoram
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher or coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Slice tomatoes in half, put them in a bowl and combine all of the seasonings, stir well and set aside.


Homemade Basil Pesto (about the amount you’ll need for this recipe): (I use store-bought)

    4 ounces fresh basil leaved, rinsed gently and patted dry
    2 tablespoons (or so) extra virgin olive oil
    1 fat cloves garlic, minced
    1/2-1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    few grinds of black pepper
    scant 1/2 cup (scant 1 ounce) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons lightly toasted, unsalted pine nuts

Combine basil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on low-speed while drizzling in the olive oil. Process until everything has come together, stopping to scrape down the bowl once, if needed.



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