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Caprese Pasta Salad with Salsiccia

Penne, tomato, mozzarella and basil meet Italian sausage in a lemony-herb dressing for the perfect summer supper.

Caprese Pasta Salad is penne, tomato, basil, mozzarella, and Italian sausage
Caprese Pasta Salad with Salsiccia is a light but satisfying summertime meal.

Last week, we had the first taste of hot temperatures in Missouri as a heat wave made its way across the country. Although the temperature didn’t hit 100 degrees, the heat index did. Going outside made me feel like a piece of limp lettuce that had been sitting on the counter for two days. Yuck!


As the dog days of summer approach, I think we crave lighter meals. That’s why I love this Caprese Pasta Salad with Salsiccia. Penne combines with seasonal tomatoes, fragrant basil, and a lemon/herb dressing to make the perfect bite for July. And honestly, any time I can work those cute little mozzarella balls (bocconcini) into a recipe, it makes me smile.


We have the good people of Capri to thank for Caprese salad, which traditionally is sliced mozzarella and tomato with basil and drizzled with olive oil. Salt and maybe a little cracked pepper are the only seasonings. It’s an appetizer in Italy. To me, it’s one of those dishes that scream summer, thanks to the juicy seasonal tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden.


Caprese Pasta Salad incorporates the classic ingredients of the Italian dish and adds lemon, shallot, Parmesan and salsiccia. This and a chilled glass of rose and I’m a happy woman. Let’s get cooking.

To make Caprese Pasta Salad, you will need these ingredients:

  • 16 ounces (1 pound) penne pasta

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 large tomato, chopped

  • 2 salsiccia links

  • 1 (12-ounce) carton bocconcini marinated in oil and herbs

  • ½ cup basil leaves, torn into pieces

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

If you can’t find the marinated bocconcini, add 1/3 cup olive oil and ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning to the above ingredients.

Salad ingredients penne pasta, 2 Italian sausage links, mozzarella balls, fresh tomato, fresh basil and lemon
A few simple ingredients are all you need for a 30-minute pasta salad.

Directions for Caprese Pasta Salad

Remove sausage from casings and break into small (1-inch) pieces. Brown over medium-high heat until fully cooked. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.


While the sausage cooks, fill a large (8-quart) stockpot with water. Add kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse well in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.


Drain the bocconcini, reserving the liquid. Add cheese, cooked sausage and chopped tomato to cooled pasta.


In a small bowl, whisk together herbed oil from bocconcini with shallot, garlic, salt, pepper lemon juice and zest. Drizzle over salad. Add basil and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Allow salad to sit 10 minutes before serving.

A tomato on cutting board is cut in half then chopped
Nothing says summer like a fresh tomato. Be sure to sprinkle the chopped tomato for your salad with a pinch of salt.

Serving and storing Caprese Pasta Salad

This recipe easily feeds four people, but if you have any leftover pasta salad, I suggest bringing it out on your counter to get to room temperature. Cold sausage bites aren’t appetizing.


While Caprese Pasta Salad is a filling meal by itself, I served the salad with a few slices of fresh cantaloupe. It’s a perfect pairing.

Salads are a simple yet satisfying choice for summer mealtime. I hope you’ll give Caprese Pasta Salad with Salsiccia a try and let me know how it worked for your family. Stay cool out there!


photo of author drinking coffee in montage with bio

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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