Fusilli alla Caprese
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.
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 delicious cold, should you have any leftover. Thank you to my dear friend Kelly Santoro for sharing the recipe with me.
What You’ll Need To Make Fusilli Alla Caprese
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
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.
Next, use a small serrated knife to halve the cherry tomatoes.
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.
Add the halved 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.
You May Also Like
- Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Mozzarella Pearls
- Pasta Salad with Pesto
- Summer Pasta Primavera
- Tomato Sauce with Basil
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.
- 1 pound fusilli (or similar) pasta
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups (about 1½ pints) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ 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)
- 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 ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
- 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.
- 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.
WHAT A GREAT RECIPE!!! This recipe is ever so simple and not time consuming…Restaurant quality and ever so tasty… I loooove Fusili. In fact, JEN, I love all your pasta recipes.
We are a family of 2 and oftentimes, I have far too many leftovers. Is it possible to include half the amount of servings within the recipe?
My question relates to as many of the recipes as possible.
Thanks so much.
What adjustments would you make to the sauce if I was going serve with a balsamic reduction when plating?
Hi Michael, I don’t think you’d need to make any adjustments/ Sounds like a delicious way to top it off!
Love this one! It’s one of my go-tos. Easy, versatile and absolutely delicious and satisfying!
Fabulous! Took it to a picnic before a show. My friend made it and now I’ve got the recipe! Not a “heavy” sauce. Delicate sauce.
You mention this tastes good hot or cold. I would like to make the cold version. Should I follow the recipe as is or make modifications. Please advise. Thank you.
Hi Belinda, You can just follow the recipe as is. Enjoy! 🙂
Jenn, I have a 28 oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes. Can I drain them, seed and chunk them and follow the recipe as noted. I don’t care for the tomato skins and I’m thinking if I don’t overcook them or add extra water, unless needed, they might work? Thank you.
Hi Myrna, I think it will give you a slightly different result, but it will still be good. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
Next time I will double this–so easy and delicious. My family devoured it. Thank you for another outstanding recipe.
This is the first time I add a review to a website, but after making 30-some recipes from your website with excellent results, I thought it was time. When I saw this recipe I hesitated to make it -who needs a recipe for pasta with tomatoes? I was so wrong!! When I was making the sauce I had to control myself not to eat the whole thing before adding the pasta 🙂 D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. I’m amazed at how you can turn something so simple into something so “out-of-this-worldly”. I also got your cookbook for the Holidays and I love it. Thank you for sharing your recipes.
Deceptively simple and sooooo delicious Based on others’ comments, reduced the amount of pasta and the flavors really came through. Simple and fresh and so easy to make. I’ve tried different (and often fussier) versions of this, but none as simply delicious. Can’t wait to make it again!
Before finding this dish, my husband and I were not “pasta people.” Now we make this or another similar pasta dish from the blog (we also love the Pesto Pasta & Pasta Primavera) at least weekly. It is the perfect, simple and delicious weeknight meal. I try to keep the ingredients on hand at all times. We make it exactly as written, adjusted for 1-2 servings.
Amazingly simple and delicious. I made the pasta al dente and let it cook in the tomato sauce for a little while longer. It helps it to soak up the delicious sauce. My new fave. Thanks!
Made this the other day. So delicious!! I sliced the garlic instead of mincing it because I wanted the flavor of the garlic without eating it. Turned out to be wonderful. Love your recipes!
Can I prepare this recipe a day ahead and add the basil and mozzarella just before serving?
I’ve been making this recipe ever since I saw Giada preparing it way back in her “Everyday Italian” days. It really is amazing how such simple ingredients can make such an amazingly tasty dish. I usually add a lot more garlic and less pasta but keep everything else the same. My only issue is that invariably the cheese clumps together, no matter how little I stir it.
I have been making your recipes for years but only tried this recipe tonight. This is the pasta recipe I have been looking for all of my life! I had everything on hand and especially needed to use my homegrown tomatoes and basil. I served it with grilled chicken breasts. The recipe is quick, simple, and delicious! As per my husband’s request I will make this again…likely this week! Thank you, thank you, thank you Jenn.
This was amazing! Good cold and hot.
It’s tricking my husband into thinking I can cook… Your instructions on your recipes really take the guesswork out.
Thank you so much!
I tried this recipe tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I will definitely make it again!
Perfect for a warm summer night!
Can you use grape tomatoes or mini San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce?
Sure, Shanti. Enjoy!
I am making this for the first time for a dinnner party Tuesday. Will it pair well with your recipe for roasted pepper salad with feta and pine nuts? I am also making your recipe for garlic bread from your cookbook.
Thanks. Your recipes are the only ones I will serve to company the first time I prepare them!
Hi Elizabeth, Sure, I think that salad would pair well. I’d also like a green salad here like the Big Italian Salad or this arugula salad. Hope that helps and that you enjoy whatever you make!
Hi, Jen, think I can add blanched broccoli to this recipe for added nutrition …. less starch ….? Sounds Ok to me…..what do you think? Thanks Stay safe Elaine
Definitely – hope you enjoy!
Delicious, super easy and fast!
Jenn, I use your recipes religiously throughout the week and sing your praises to everyone who asks for a recipe. I kept skipping by this one because it seemed too simple to be great. I’m mad I waited this long to try this one. Delicious cold and hot. Another homer.
If I don’t have fresh basil could I use dry basil?
Hi Jackie, Yes, you can use dried basil in place of the fresh but keep in mind that you will need much less. Also, while the dried basil will add flavor and some color here, it does have a very very different taste than fresh. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
Delicious! Unfortunately I found the skins of the cherry tomatoes to be tough after cooking and then adding to pasta. Suggestions? I definitely want to make this again. Thanks!
Glad you liked it! I the tomato skins really bother you and you don’t mind the extra step, you can blanch the tomatoes and remove the skin. See how here. Hope that helps!
This is a super simple recipe! So quick to put together and very tasty! I never would have thought to throw these few simple ingredients together to make such a satisfying dish. I know my palette so I adjust accordingly. I love garlic so I added a bit more! I also doubled the basil because I love it! My bag of pasta only contained 12oz of pasta that is what I used. I did need to add the reserved pasta water and it made a perfectly lovely sauce!! Just a wonderfully simple recipe to throw into my rotation!!
Hi Jenny, love your recipes as they are easy to do. For this, can I substitute Parmesan cheese with mozzarella balls?
So glad you like the recipes! I like the texture that the mozzarella balls add here, but you can definitely substitute with parm. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
Wanted to make this but vegan. Can you do without the mozzarella or should you use vegan cheese? Thanks!
Sure, Alyssa, vegan cheese would work as a replacement for the mozzarella. Hope you enjoy!
Excellent but with real fusilli. The long, skinny kind. That was Rotini in the recipe. Delicious though. (Box said Fusilli but mistake)
I love the flavours of a caprese salad and I love a good pasta salad so I am keen to make this work. My first attempt had far too much pasta for the number of servings and the flavours didn’t come through. On my second attempt I reduced the amount of pasta by half and increased the fresh basil by 4 times. It was getting better, but I think I still have too much pasta per serving. I am wondering if I am misunderstanding the measurement for the pasta…I am assuming that you are referring to the weight of the pasta when it is dry. Also, I don’t always have fusilli pasta on hand and have been liberal in making substitutions in the type of pasta. Do you think that would be factor?
So only 3 stars as written but I am still working on making it a 5.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Hi Carol, Sorry this hasn’t been a 5 for you but glad you’re persisting! You’re correct that the pound of pasta is the uncooked measurement. And fusilli is the ideal pasta shape for this recipe – because of its corkscrew shape, the sauce clings nicely to it. But no worries if you’re unable to find fusilli in your store — rotini, penne, or farfalle pastas are all good alternatives. Hope that helps!
Absolutely delicious and yet so simple. Company worthy!
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!
Hi Marsha, Honestly, either would be very good but I’d probably go with Italian.
We added halved pitted ripe olives -fabulous!
Dottie in North Carolina
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!!!
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.
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.
This looks delicious. My family can’t eat garlic. Is there a substitution you would recommend for flavor? Thank you!
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!
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.
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!
Sorry, forgot to rate it – Five stars!
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!
Fresh and delicious. Almost the last of our cherry tomatoes!!! Sauce coated the fusilli nicely. Small mozzarella pearls are just right!
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!
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. 🙂
Can you make ahead and serve later w ur buttermilk chicken on the side?
Sure — this is equally good hot or cold. Hope you enjoy!