Gluten-Free Caprese Pasta Salad is full of flavor and the perfect side dish for summer cookouts! Soft gluten-free pasta, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil are tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. A drizzle of balsamic reduction adds a sweet finish.
A summer pasta salad is perfect for backyard bbqs, cookouts, and potlucks. That's because gluten-free pasta salads tend to be easy recipes, that are full of flavor and can be served to a lot of people. With only six simple ingredients, this gluten-free caprese pasta salad recipe is no exception.
The classic caprese salad is a simple Italian dish made of fresh mozzarella cheese, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar. Add these flavors to pasta and you've got a delicious twist on this classic Gluten-Free Pasta Salad.
While this recipe is considered a side dish, it doesn't have to be! This pasta is so good it would make a great light meal for those hot summer days. Serve with some grilled chicken and you've got a fantastic main dish!
Enjoy this recipe for all of your summer potlucks! It will be the perfect dish to bring and a popular addition to the menu. For more dish-to-pass inspiration, check out these potluck ideas! Or consider making the crowd favorite gluten-free hash brown casserole or corn casserole.
- Gluten-Free Pasta: I highly recommend Barilla gluten-free rotini pasta for this recipe. It stays more intact and soft as compared to other gluten-free pastas.
- Balsamic Vinaigrette: Use store-bought or homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I used Brianna's Creamy Balsamic Dressing in this recipe.
- Balsamic Reduction: This ingredient is optional but so worth adding. It adds a sweet and flavorful finish to the dish.
- Fresh Mozzarella Pearls: Find this in the specialty cheese case at the grocery store. If you can't find mozzarella pearls, dice a ball of fresh mozzarella into bite sized pieces.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Use cherry or grape tomatoes if possible. They are the perfect bite size tomato. Larger tomatoes would also work. Dice them into bite size pieces and remove any watery parts or seeds. Above all, a ripe, sweet tomato is key.
- Fresh Basil Leaves: If you can't find fresh basil leaves, you could substitute freeze-dried chopped basil.
Cook gluten-free pasta 2 minutes more than package instructions in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Add cooked pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette to a large bowl.
Gently toss to combine the ingredients. Taste and adjust for seasoning, add in more dressing or salt and pepper, if desired. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze reduction.
This pasta salad is best served at room temperature and as close to the time you make it as possible. This is because gluten-free pasta will inevitably harden a bit when refrigerated.
This salad can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F. Refrigerate the salad if you prepare it more than two hours ahead of serving.
To make ahead, make the pasta salad, store in an airtight container, and refrigerate until the needed. This pasta salad will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator but is best when served as fresh as possible.
Allow the pasta to come back to room temperature a bit before serving. Add another drizzle of dressing as needed since the pasta will likely absorb most of the dressing while it sits.
Top Recipe Tips
- Add 2 minutes. Add 2 additional minutes to the cook time on the package directions. This helps the pasta stay softer after refrigeration, especially if it is a rice-based pasta.
- The brand and type of pasta matters. Gluten-free pasta can be finicky, which makes it a bit tricky to use for pasta salad. You can't just grab any old brand off the shelf and expect great results. Some gluten-free pastas tend to crumble apart after cooking, others have strong flavors that could over power the dish.
I have found Barilla brand holds up well to refrigeration, tastes the most like "regular" pasta, and holds its shape better compared to some other gluten-free pastas, which is why I recommend it for this recipe. Jovial and Ancient Harvest brands are other good options.
Stick with rice or rice and corn based pastas if possible, avoiding lentil or chickpea pasta due to their strong flavor.
- Serve room temperature. Consider making this pasta salad just before serving and serve at room temperature. This will ensure the softest pasta.
- Add more dressing. The longer the salad sits, the pasta tends to soak up the balsamic vinaigrette, so having a little extra on hand never hurts! Drizzle in more vinaigrette just before serving and toss to combine.
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Gluten-Free Caprese Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces gluten-free pasta, Barilla preferred
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
- 1 bunch fresh basil, 4-5 large leaves
- 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette, Such as Brianna's Creamy Balsamic Dressing, plus more as needed
- ¼ cup balsamic reduction
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta adding 2 additional minutes to the cook time stated on the package.
- While the pasta cooks, slice the tomatoes in half. Then roll up the basil leaves and slice them into thin strips.
- Once the pasta has cooked, rinse and drain well. Add the drained pasta to a large serving bowl along with the mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette.
- Gently toss to combine the ingredients.
- Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top of the salad just before serving.