Fusilli alla Caprese

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Simple yet spectacular, this fusilli alla Caprese requires just a handful of ingredients, comes together quickly, and is delicious hot or cold.

Sometimes cooking weeknight dinners can feel like a chore, but when a dish is as simple and spectacular as this one, it can be therapy. Adapted from Giada De Laurentis, fusilli alla Caprese calls for just a handful of good-quality ingredients — and the sauce cooks in less time than it takes to boil the pasta. What’s more, it’s light, healthyish and delicious cold, should you have any leftover.

Thank you to my dear friend (and food-loving cohort) Kelly Santoro for sharing the recipe with me!

What You’ll Need To Make Fusilli Alla Caprese

fusilli pasta caprese ingredients

Since the recipe calls for so few ingredients, it’s important not to skimp on quality. You’ll need good extra-virgin olive oil, fresh minced garlic (no jarred stuff!), sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella.

Fusilli is the ideal pasta shape for this recipe – because of its corkscrew shape, the sauce clings nicely to it. But if you’re unable to find fusilli in your store, rotini, penne, or farfalle pastas are all good alternatives.

If your store happens to carry packages of assorted colors of cherry tomatoes, I love the color they add to the dish; if not no worries – it will still be lovely.

For the cheese, I like to use mozzarella pearls; these are the tiniest mozzarella balls, named for their size. Most large supermarkets carry them conveniently packaged in 8-oz pouches but, if you can’t find them, simply buy a ball of fresh mozzarella and dice it into cubes.

How To Make Fusilli Alla Caprese

cooking the pasta

Begin by boiling the fusilli until al dente. You’ll need to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water to use in the sauce. It’s easy to forget when you drain the pasta, so I always set out a liquid measuring cup as a visual reminder.

halving cherry tomatoes

Next, use a small serrated knife to halve the cherry tomatoes.

sauteing the garlic in pan

Make the sauce: in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes; do not burn.

adding the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper to the garlic

Add the halved tomatoes, salt, and pepper and increase the heat to medium-high.

cooking the cherry tomatoes

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to soften and burst, 4 to 5 minutes.

mashing the tomatoes into a chunky sauce

Using a fork, smash the tomatoes into a chunky sauce.

adding the pasta to the sauce

Add the drained fusilli to the pan and toss to combine.

adding the cheese and basil to the pasta

Right before serving, toss in the basil and mozzarella pearls. (It’s important to do this at the last minute so the cheese doesn’t melt too much.)

finished fusilli pasta caprese

Taste and adjust seasoning, adding the reserved pasta water little by little if the pasta seems dry. Spoon into bowls and serve.

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Fusilli alla Caprese

Simple yet spectacular, this fusilli alla Caprese requires just a handful of ingredients, comes together quickly, and is delicious hot or cold.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fusilli (or similar) pasta
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups (about 1-1/2 pints) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh packed basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls (alternatively, you can use an 8-oz ball of fresh mozzarella, diced)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes; do not burn. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to soften and burst, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a fork, smash the tomatoes into a chunky sauce. Add the drained fusilli to the pan and toss to combine. Right before serving, toss in the basil and mozzarella pearls. (It's important to do this at the last minute so the cheese doesn't melt too much.) Taste and adjust seasoning, adding the reserved pasta water little by little if the pasta seems dry. Spoon into bowls and serve.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 520
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 62 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Sodium: 506 mg
  • Cholesterol: 30 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I wanted to pair this with a salad but can’t decide between Italian or Caesar. Which would you recommend? Thank you in advance Chef!

    • — Marsha on September 30, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Marsha, Honestly, either would be very good but I’d probably go with Italian.

      • — Jenn on September 30, 2019
      • Reply
  • We added halved pitted ripe olives -fabulous!
    Dottie in North Carolina

    • — Dottie Smith on September 24, 2019
    • Reply
  • I love Jenn’s recipes! However, I was a bit skeptical about this one. It looked too simple and maybe not that flavorful. WOW, was I right and wrong! It was simple…..but the flavor was fantastic!!! Tasted fresh and just plain delish! Again, thanks Jenn!!!! You make me and my hubby smile!!!

    • — LynneM on September 19, 2019
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on September 19, 2019
      • Reply
  • This dish was so easy and so flavorful! My husband and I loved it and we are planning to try it again, only next time skipping the basil and mozzarella and substituting parmesan just for a different take on a great recipe. Jenn’s recipes never fail me. Also, a shameless plug for her cookbook, you should buy it for more great recipes.

    • — Linda on September 18, 2019
    • Reply
  • This recipe is out of this world good!!!!! I made it tonight and my husband and son cannot get enough! The flavor is so unbelievable. The tomatoes and basil were both grown in my garden so it couldn’t taste any fresher. Thank you so much again Jen for another recipe beyond perfection, and so easy to make. It is definitely a keeper in my dinner repertoire.

    • — Frances E. on September 16, 2019
    • Reply
  • This looks delicious. My family can’t eat garlic. Is there a substitution you would recommend for flavor? Thank you!

    • — Allison on September 16, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Allison, Unfortunately, there’s no perfect substitute for garlic, as it has a very distinct flavor. If you’re able to use onions, you can replace the garlic with some diced shallots. Hope that helps and that you enjoy the dish if you make it!

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2019
      • Reply
  • Marvelous and easy. Unbeatable combination. Added about 6 ounces of leftover already cooked salmon that was sitting in the freezer. Better half (perennial dieter) served her own plate, finished, and then did something she never does. Looked at her empty plate, and without a word, stood up, went to the stove and finished off the pan. That is the ultimate compliment.
    As always, thank you for making me look good.

    • — Craig on September 15, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, this recipe is perfect in its simplicity with all of the fresh garden flavors. We had truffled burrata so that’s we used. Also, when crushing sauteed cherry tomatoes, we use an old fashioned potato masher. Thanks for another keeper!

    • — Denise Graves on September 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • Sorry, forgot to rate it – Five stars!

    • — Sandra H on September 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I made this tonight with a big handful of basil from the garden. Used a mix of local grape tomatoes and Roma tomatoes (cored and seeded) and a mix of mini bocconcini balls and cubed fresh mozzarella. With kosher salt and lots of cracked pepper, I added a good pinch of red chili pepper. I could eat this every day!

    • — Sandra H on September 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • Fresh and delicious. Almost the last of our cherry tomatoes!!! Sauce coated the fusilli nicely. Small mozzarella pearls are just right!

    • — Betty on September 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen-
    This sounds like such a wonderful recipe as are so many of your recipes I’ve made. If you could answer a question for me….I love cherry tomatoes but I don’t like it when you saute them and the skins peel away and you are left with a nice, tasty cooked tomato but that skin is a little tough. Is there any way to get around this or could I use a peeled roma tomato in this recipe. Would that work?
    Thanks so much!

    • — Suellen Horvath on September 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Suellen, There’s really no way to get around that skin separating from the tomatoes, but yes, an equivalent amount of peeled Roma tomatoes would work nicely — great idea! Hope you enjoy. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 12, 2019
      • Reply
      • Can you make ahead and serve later w ur buttermilk chicken on the side?

        • — GWoodell on September 17, 2019
        • Reply
        • Sure — this is equally good hot or cold. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on September 17, 2019
          • Reply

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