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This Caprese Pasta is full of fresh ingredients and so easy to make. A light tomato sauce coats the pasta, and fresh mozzarella and basil add tons of flavor!
Isn’t summer produce the best? Juicy cherry tomatoes are my favorite this time of year. I love the variety of fresh cherry and grape tomato colors – red, orange, yellow, and even purple.
For this caprese pasta recipe, I took some inspiration from the abundance of ripe cherry tomatoes that are available this time of year. I wanted to create a dish in which their fresh flavor could shine.
The combination of tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella is a favorite, most often found in caprese salad. This classic combination makes this tomato, basil and mozzarella pasta recipe so delicious.
This caprese pasta is a perfect quick summer dinner. You might also enjoy my Spinach Pesto Pasta, another summery meal made with cherry tomatoes.
How to Make Caprese Pasta
This recipe is perfect for hot summer days because it doesn’t require you to turn on your oven. The ingredients list for this recipe is simple, but this dish packs big, fresh flavor.
First you’ll want to get your pasta cooking, so start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. While the pasta cooks, you’ll make an easy, light tomato sauce in a skillet, using fresh cherry or grape tomatoes. The sauce is flavored with plenty of garlic, salt and pepper. You can adjust the amounts to your tastes.
When the pasta is done cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. The water will have starches in it from the pasta and this will help to create a sauce for the caprese pasta.
After adding the cooked pasta to the skillet, you’ll stir in a little bit of the pasta cooking water along with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Everything mixes together and the pasta gets coated with the sauce. Stir in the fresh mozzarella and basil, and dinner is done!
Where to Find Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh mozzarella is often kept with the specialty cheeses or in the deli section of most grocery stores. If you can’t fresh mozzarella there, it is sometimes located in the dairy aisle, usually near the other cheeses such as Parmesan and blocks of low-moisture mozzarella.
In this recipe, you can use a larger ball of fresh mozzarella, which is usually sold in a plastic wrapper. You can also use mini mozzarella balls, which are usually sold in round plastic containers and packed in water. Either way, you will want to cut the fresh mozzarella into smaller pieces before adding it to the pasta.
What to Serve with this Easy Pasta Recipe
- Green Salad
- Crusty Bread or Whole Wheat Bread with butter
- Grilled Chicken, for additional protein
- Sautéed Green Beans
- Minestrone Soup
Caprese Pasta Recipe Tips
- You can use any short pasta shape in this recipe, such as elbow pasta, penne, rotini or shells.
- Use whole wheat pasta or white pasta, depending on your preference and what you have on hand.
- Remember to reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. This is necessary to help the fresh tomato sauce come together.
- Try adding grilled or baked chicken to make chicken caprese pasta.
- 8 ounces whole wheat elbow pasta (or other short pasta shapes)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (washed and dried well)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (cut into small cubes)
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions for al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain pasta; set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened and begin to burst, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes and garlic, along with about ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add more pasta cooking water as necessary – combined with the cooked tomatoes it will make a light tomato sauce to coat the pasta. Stir in the grated Parmesan and then the fresh mozzarella.
- Remove pan from the heat and then gently stir in fresh basil. Serve.
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