Chicken Caprese Salad with Creamy Basil Pesto is quick, flavorful, and perfect for every occasion. Pair it with a glass of your favorite wine, and excite your tastebud!
Why should you make this recipe?
This Caprese chicken pasta recipe is not just easy to make but versatile and wholesome. You get a scrumptious romance of chicken, burrata, pasta, and pesto all in one.
Among the many recipes with burrata, this salad recipe is by far the easiest and most flavorsome of all. You can enjoy it for lunch or dinner, just like this copycat favorite chicken fruit salad. I also serve it with my asparagus basil pesto when I need a slightly different flavor profile.
- Pasta: I used the Casarecce pasta. Feel free to use whatever you have. I especially like pasta with grooves to soak up all the juicy tomato, pesto, and cheesy burrata.
- Seasoning: I used a combination of smoked paprika, garlic, chicken bouillon powder, salt, and ground black pepper to flavor the chicken thighs.
- Chicken thighs: If you’d instead use chicken breast, remember to reduce the cooking time, as the time mentioned on the recipe card can quickly dry the bird.
- Olive oil: Any neutral-tasting oil is fine.
- Tomatoes: I used grape/cherry tomatoes. Any juicy tomatoes will work
- Fresh burrata: use fresh burrata. Burrata is a soft Italian-style cheese made from cow’s milk. You can find them in the dairy aisle or where cheese is sold.
For the Pesto sauce
- Fresh herbs: basil and oregano. See below for substitutes.
- Fresh garlic cloves: use less garlic for the herby dressing if you don’t like the pungent taste.
- Parmesan: buy a block of parmesan and grate it yourself.
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh lemon juice
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make Caprese pesto pasta salad
- First, you’ll start by marinating the chicken.
- As the chicken is marinating, cook the pasta shells according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the basil pesto dressing.
- Place all the ingredients for the pesto as it’s listed on the recipe card into the bowl of a food processor with blades attached and give it a few pulses until it’s roughly mixed.
- Cook the chicken on the stovetop for a few minutes, then transfer it into the oven to cook for about 16-18 minutes or until the juice runs clear. Allow it to rest before slicing into it.
- Spoon the pasta into individual serving bowls to serve the Caprese chicken recipe, and add tomatoes, burrata, and chicken. Drizzle the creamy basil pesto atop the pasta and garnish with more basil. Serve immediately!
How to store Caprese pesto pasta salad?
This cold chicken Caprese salad tastes excellent when served cold so that you can store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
Moreover, you can also store the leftover salad by placing it in an airtight container and refrigerating it. It will last for up to 3 days. However, the more you keep it in the refrigerator, the more juices the ingredients will release. As a result, the salad gets soggy. So, try not to store it for more than three days.
- This Caprese chicken pasta recipe makes for great meal prep. Make the pesto, pasta, and chicken and store them in individual air-tight containers.
- Do not tear the burrata until serving.
- You can equally chop up the tomatoes if using. When it’s time to serve, reheat the chicken. Bring the pasta to room temperature and the pesto and tomatoes.
Which wine pairs well with the chicken Caprese salad bowl?
This Caprese pesto salad served with a glass of wine will make it a luxurious meal. There are so many excellent choices when it comes to wines. Here are a few ideas on which wine goes well with this Caprese salad bowl:
- Pinot Noir: Every wine lover knows the otherworldly flavor of Pinot Noir. It is a red wine that simply excites your taste buds. The complexity of flavors is just the right choice for this salad.
- Chardonnay: A glass of crisp chardonnay paired with any cream-based pasta dish is a marriage made in heaven.
- Italian Merlot: Light-bodied Italian Merlot is another red wine that goes well with this Caprese pesto salad. Its velvety texture is just perfect.
- Rosé: You can serve this salad with either light, Crisp, or dry rosé, depending on your liking. This particular wine is very versatile and goes well with almost everything! It is a good choice when you don't have a detailed knowledge of wines.
I used a food processor to blend the herbs and cheese. You can use a regular blender as well. (affiliate link)
Cast iron grilling pan or any skillet
Pasta pot or any medium-sized saucepan
What can I substitute for basil in Caprese salad?
Although basil offers a savory and refreshing flavor in this salad, you can replace it with other leafy greens, herbs, or nuts as well, like my asparagus pesto.
Here are a few ideas:
- Parsley: Parsley is quite common, has a clean and herbaceous flavor, and is an excellent choice to replace basil.
- Mint: Although mint's flavor is quite strong compared to basil, you can add it in a small amount to get freshness and color.
- Cilantro: Cilantro is both tasteful and aromatic. It has a citrusy and complex flavor and a sweet and peppery aroma. Cilantro is easy to find and can stand as a basil substitute on some occasions.
- Arugula: Arugula may have a bit of bitter flavor, but it offers peppery notes which resemble basil. Try combining it with nuts to balance things out.
- Spinach: Spinach’s earthy and nutty flavor is a good basil substitute. It's perfect for many dishes, like this Salmon and spinach dinner recipe.
Basil Pesto: FAQ
Absolutely! You can add pesto straight from the jar to your salad. You don't necessarily have to cook it.
Can you substitute dried basil in Caprese salad?
You can substitute dried basil in Caprese salad with dried oregano, Italian seasoning, tarragon, or sage. The flavor profile might be different, but these herbs work well.
PEACE & LOVE
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Chicken Caprese salad with creamy basil pesto
- 1 pack pasta shell ( I used Casarecce )
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground garlic
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste ( I used ½ a teaspoon each)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil + more
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 .oz fresh burrata
FOR THE PESTO
- 2 fresh basil + plus more to garnish
- ¼ fresh oregano
- 4 garlic cloves (use less garlic if you don’t like the pungent taste)
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan
- Salt & ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Combine paprika, garlic powder, bouillon powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken in a bowl or ziplock bag or bowl, add olive oil, then sprinkle the seasoning mixture over chicken. Massage with both hands until all sides are well coated. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.
- As the chicken is marinating, cook the pasta shells according to package instructions. Set aside.
- Place all the ingredients for the pesto into the bowl of a food processor and give it a few pulses until it’s roughly mixed.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet pan on medium heat. Place the chicken thighs top side down, and cook for 3 minutes. Using a kitchen thong, flip the chicken, and bake for 16-18 minutes or until the juice runs clear or an instant thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F. Let stand for 5 minutes or so before slicing.
- Spoon the pasta into individual serving bowls. Add tomatoes, burrata, and chicken. Drizzle the creamy basil pesto atop the pasta and garnish it with fresh basil. Serve immediately!