Caprese Pasta Skillet


Caprese Pasta Skillet is a delicious light and fresh vegetarian dinner to enjoy all year-round.

Oh my gosh, I LOVED hearing about your celebrity run-ins! Made me feel better about being such a spaz on Saturday. :) Can I also say how envious I am? I mean, Duchess Kate?! Giada? Bob? Alton?

You know who I want to meet? Paul Rudd. Love that guy.

Ben doesn’t get the whole fascination with famous people AT. ALL. They’re just regular people! he insists. I know, I know, but there’s just something about looking up to someone and thinking your paths will never cross, then when they randomly do – meltdown.

Besides, he’s one to talk. One day a million years ago we were walking up the front steps to my apartment building in Minneapolis when he barges ahead of me to grab the door.

Wow, slightly rude, I guess, but at least he’s being a gentleman! Swoon. I look up and realize he’s not holding the door open for me, rather, he’s gazing adoringly up at a tall albino man coming down the interior steps.

Hey, thanks man. The guy says as he walks through the open door, and down the street.

Oh! Yeah! Sure! No problem! Ben, the most chill guy on the planet, yells (literally yells) after him.


Turns out the guy was Brother Ali – Ben’s favorite hip hop artist in the entire world – who apparently lived in my building at the time. He was in a frenzy for weeks afterwards.


Anyway, I got a really good recipe for you today that’s not only been tested by me, but also by one of my besties – Caprese Pasta Skillet!

My friend Ashley and I were comparing garden stories a few weeks ago (because that’s what good friends do) when we both declared our need for cherry tomato recipes to use up our never-ending, always growing stash. I’m telling you – it’s incredible how many of those little guys those plants can crank out everyday!

Anyway, we swapped recipes –  Barley Corn Salad with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette from me, and Summer Garden Pasta from her, and both agreed a recipe I’d found for a Caprese Pasta Skillet was a must try in the near future.

A few days later, I got a text from Ashley confirming it’s deliciousness, and it wasn’t long after that I tasted the clean, summery flavors of quickly sauteed cherry tomatoes tossed with chewy orecchiette pasta, herby pesto, and smoky mozzarella cheese for myself. You will LOVE this quick and easy, fresh-tasting skillet!

Start by making the basil-packed pesto which will help create a light, fresh-tasting sauce for the dish. Store-bought pesto is totally fine (Trader Joe’s is fantastic) or you can make 1/2 of my homemade pesto recipe with 2 Tablespoons water added in. Your call!

Set the pesto aside and cook 8oz orecchiette pasta in salted boiling water next. Orecchiette’s name comes from its shape and means “small ear”. It’s so cute. Cook the pasta until it’s just under al dente, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, slice 2 cups cherry tomatoes in half,

then cube up 1 cup smoked mozzarella.

Normally Caprese dishes are made with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella, but I had smoked mozzarella in a pasta dish from a restaurant in Napa this weekend, which literally makes me have to gulp back drool whenever I think about it. Sorry. Anyway, I thought it would be a delicious, fun twist in here – and it was!

Time to get cookin’! Preheat the broiler to high, then heat 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat then saute the cherry tomato halves for 30 seconds – just enough for them to get juicy. Add in the cooked pasta, and pesto, then toss everything to combine.

Sprinkle the smoked mozzarella cheese on top then place the skillet under the broiler until it melts. Be sure to use a pot holder to grab the skillet out of the oven – it’ll be hot!

Top with fresh basil leaves, then scoop and serve.

1 skillet, and SUPER delicious!

Caprese Pasta Skillet

Serves 2-3


Caprese Pasta Skillet is a delicious light and fresh vegetarian dinner to enjoy all year-round.


  • 8oz orecchiette pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto
  • 1 cup cubed smoked mozzarella cheese (or mini mozzarella balls)
  • extra basil leaves for garnish


  1. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until just under al dente then drain and set aside. Place an oven rack to the very top, then preheat broiler.
  2. Heat oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then toss and cook for 30 seconds. Add cooked pasta and pesto then toss to combine. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top then place skillet under the broiler until cheese melts. Using a pot holder, remove skillet from oven then sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately.


Slightly adapted from Alexandra Cooks

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

You will shovel this dish into your face with a fierceness, it is so good!  And, I know I sound like a broken record, but each bite was totally fresh and light.

I loved how the pockets in the orecchiette pasta kind of trapped the pesto and smoky, goeey mozzarella cheese, too. Just delicious. Serve this with pesto marinated chicken or shrimp for a protein kick, if ya’ like!

Also be sure to make Caprese Pasta Skillet before it’s too late – I don’t even want to talk about how many trees I’ve seen changing color around the neighborhood. SHHHH!

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  1. heather 09.12.2012

    I saw brother ali in brooklyn a couple of years ago, he was amazing. ben has great taste(as you already know!).

  2. FitBritt 09.12.2012

    Looks so amazing! I love caprese anything! I will have to try.

    I live in NYC and never see any celebs! EVER!

  3. stephanie 09.12.2012

    I saw Paul Rudd at the Grove in Los Angeles. He was running around with his son who was playing air guitar and dancing in front of a live band. It was so cute!!!!!

  4. I love your vegetarian pasta dishes – they look always so amazing and filling! Have to try this one soon.

  5. AngieDB 09.13.2012

    How funny! I was just standing in my kitchen this morning wondering what to do with all my cherry tomatoes! I opted to try and make sauce with them… was fun peeling and seeding them all (not) but I have sooo many. My plants grew to well over 8 feet tall and overtook the green beans! They are so bushy I can’t even get to a lot of them. Thanks for the recipe! p.s. I started my plants from seed (seeds from in Decorah).

  6. That looks so yummy! I love veggie meals but I know I would have to add some grilled chicken in it because I can’t live without my protein…lol.

  7. Julia Jolliff 09.13.2012

    This looks delicious! I recently made something similar..can’t wait to try this out!

  8. This sounds so simple and tasty! I’ve got a huge bundle of basil waiting to be blitzed into pesto — I just need some nuts!

  9. Get in line for meeting Paul Rudd ;)

    Delicious looking pasta too!

  10. Umm hello little ball of Mozzarella squished inside of a shell, I want you.

  11. STACY 09.13.2012

    Love your blog. This dish looks super yummy! Thanks for the tips on Napa wineries – gonna have to check them out. Also, love your celebrity encounter. totally sounds like something I would do :)

  12. this dinner looks so yummy! ecsp that cheese! yummm!

  13. rita in mi 09.13.2012

    So funny you mention meeting Paul Rudd. One of my friends met him once at a bar in NYC. She said he was totally cool, down-to-earth and just hanging out. Even had a bag of laundry with him! They played poker together for a while before he headed out! :)

  14. Lauren 09.13.2012

    Your tomatoes look incredible! I’m envious because mine all flopped this year. Such a horrible summer for tomato growing in PA. :(

  15. Last minute summer-y dinner. Love it!

  16. Alicia 09.14.2012

    Yum. this looks so so so amazing!!

  17. Jill 09.16.2012

    Thanks for a great recipe, we will share it with our CSA this week, with credit due, of course.

  18. […] cook 10oz orecchiette pasta in salted, boiling water then drain and set aside. I know I just used these, but I also happen to have a pasta purchasing problem as evidenced by the 49 boxes of different […]

  19. […] “end of summer” dish…Caprese Pasta Skillet…it incorporates all the best of summer…tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella […]

  20. […] Caprese Pasta Skillet from Iowa Girl […]

  21. Becky 10.04.2012

    I made this pasts dish for dinner tonight for my family of 5 and it was fabulous! I couldn’t find smoked mozzarella so I used little fresh mozzarella pearls. I would definitely like to try it with the smoked cheese next time. Thanks for the recipe! You’re blog is just great and you are adorable! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts!

  22. […] Inspired by Iowa Girl Eats. […]

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  24. Anna 02.08.2014

    Wow! Made this today with wholewheat penne as part of an resolution to ‘eat more Mediterranean’…it was delicious! I chucked some rocket in there too to up the nutritional count.

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