Caprese anything can do no wrong. I mean…what’s not to love about it? Juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, tangy balsamic, fragrant basil. When I think of caprese, I visualize a pretty, slightly elevated appetizer that’s always a people-pleaser. But let’s think less fancy…caprese, but for KIDS. That’s where this pasta comes in. When I came across this recipe, I just knew: this would be a home run with my kids! And I was right. This is arguably one of their favorite lunches ever. “Mom, can you make that pasta with the tomatoes and the ‘cheeseballs?'” I can’t tell you how many times I hear that in a month, which is why we’ve got this recipe in our lunch rotation almost every other week. It’s just so easy, no one complains, it lasts a few days…just what I need as a busy mom!
We are also huge pesto people in our house; that’s one thing green my pickiest eater isn’t afraid of, so I was excited to see pesto in this dish! You can absolutely make your own pesto for this recipe, but since I’m busy or in a rush most days, I like to buy pre-made most of the time for this recipe specifically. Otherwise, I love to make my own, but only when time allows. Either way works for this pasta salad. If you do go the pre-made route, all you really have to do to whip this up is cook your pasta noodles–any work, but we often do macaroni; slice up some grape or cherry tomatoes; throw in fresh mozzarella pearls/balls OR cut up mozzarella into cubes; mix in your pesto; and drizzle in the balsamic. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix it up. That’s IT! My kids like when I skip the basil, but if I’m sneaking a bowl, I top with that, too! EASY. Done. You’ve got yourself about 2-3 days of lunches for 3 littles (less if you catch yourself sneaking a bowl or two of your own). I know I can’t help it. Ready to give this a go? Let’s make it!
Caprese Pasta Salad
- 16 oz pasta of your choice like macaroni
- 8 oz pesto store-bought or homemade
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half the long way
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese fresh "pearls" or cubes
- 2 handfuls fresh basil chopped (optional)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- balsamic vinegar to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Add to a large bowl and set aside.
- Cut up mozzarella (if needed) and tomatoes. Add to the bowl.
- Prepare your pesto (if making from scratch) and/or mix it in the bowl with other ingredients.
- Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle in balsamic vinegar (to taste).
- Serve (slightly warm or cold) and top with basil (optional). There will be lots of leftovers if following portions above! Enjoy!