Caprese Salad with Pesto Pasta

Inspired by the Farmer’s Fridge salad, this is a simple Caprese salad recipe. Made of mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, and sweet basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. Summer is the perfect season for caprese salad when tomatoes are the sweetest. Try this version is served with a basil pesto pasta.

Where did Caprese Salad come from?

One of the most delicious dishes found in all Italian cuisine is Caprese salad or the Insalata Caprese. This dish marries some of the most notable ingredients in Italian cuisine including tomatoes, olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. The dish has been popular for many decades, but where did it actually come from?

In the Early 1920s

The first origin story for Caprese salad recipes dates back to post-World War I Italy. A patriotic stone mason wanted to make a dish that was a true tribute to Italy and that visually incorporated the tricolor into the presentation. The first printed mention of the Caprese salad was on a menu at the Hotel Quisisana.

five tomatoes in round brown wooden platet
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Caprese Salad with Pesto Pasta

The freshness of your ingredients — cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil — makes this simple salad divinely delicious.


  • immersion blender or food processor


  • 1 lb rotini pasta cooked
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella pearls drained
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Basic Basil Pesto

  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil more for a smoother pesto
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese optional


Salad Preparation

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and wine.
  • Slowly whisk in oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add cherry tomatoes and cheese and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Pesto Pasta

  • Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions.
  • Using an immersion blender or In a food processor, combine the pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and pulse until well chopped.
  • Add the basil and pulse until combined.
  • With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until combined. Add the parmesan cheese, if using, and pulse to briefly combine. For a smoother pesto, add more olive oil.
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