caprese pasta salad – tips for a perfect potluck

Bright Summer tomatoes and fresh lemon basil vinaigrette create a Caprese Pasta Salad that is just perfect for your next gathering. Below the recipe is paired with my tips for how to be the star of the show at your next potluck or Summer BBQ.

Keep it simple. Not everyone is open to the latest gourmet trends so you’ll want to stay within the comfort zone of those you’ll be dining with. Of course, if it is a gathering of food bloggers – go wild!

Know your logistics.  Do you have ample outlets for crock pots? How much refrigerator space are you working with? If these commodities are limited, you might want to alter your dish accordingly.

Know your guests.  Are there significant dietary requirements? You can’t please everyone, but I know for a fact that we have several vegetarians at our office and in my circle of friends.


Label your food. Let your guests know the ingredients so that they can decide if they’re able to eat it. This is particularly important with large groups where you may not be available to answer individual questions.

Make it disposable. Aluminum roasting pans with lids from your grocer make clean up a breeze. You can recycle the container and you don’t have to worry about tracking down your favorite tupperware.

Bring your own utensils. Depending on the number of guests contributing dishes, your host may quickly run out of serving utensils. Only you know what utensil will serve your dish the easiest; might as well lend a hand and bring your own!


  • 1 lightly packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound medium pasta shells, cooked al dente
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
  • 1-2 pints baby grape tomatoes
  1. Place basil leaves, sea salt, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar into a blender or food processor.
  2. While blending, slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture and continue to blend until a smooth dressing is formed.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together cooled pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes and vinaigrette until lightly coated.
  4. Chill until ready to serve to allow flavors to come together.