You Are Ordering for Sunday, September 27th Delivery


Your Cart is Empty

Pasta Salad That Doesn’t Suck (Caprese Chicken Pasta Salad Meal Prep)

January 21, 2020 5 min read

Pasta Salad That Doesn’t Suck (Caprese Chicken Pasta Salad Meal Prep)

It took me the longest time to come around to enjoying pasta salad. It’s at every summer cookout, every salad bar, and it’s always the same. With dry, mushy pasta and a bland, yet overly acidic dressing, it always felt like I was eating a bunch of old leftovers tossed into a bowl. If prepared correctly, however, pasta salad is the perfect dish to make for meal prep. This Caprese chicken pasta salad contains perfectly cooked rigatoni pasta, a lemony pesto vinaigrette, fresh mozzarella pearls, cherry tomatoes, seared chicken, and sweet balsamic glaze. Your fears of under-salted, mushy pasta salad can now be laid to rest, my friends.

Meal Prep Caprese Salad Meal Prep

What Pasta Should I Use For Pasta Salad?


The best kind of pasta to use for pasta salad meal prep are the short cut varieties, such as penne, rigatoni, shells, bowties, etc. Save your spaghetti and fettuccine for bolognese and alfredo. The larger the pasta, the limper it will get sitting in an acidic dressing over time. Also, smaller pasta shapes cook more evenly and are easier to eat with chunkier salad ingredients, like tomatoes and chunks of cheese. When meal prepping pasta salad, you can also use things like cheese-filled tortellini for a fun twist, but be sure to use the dried kind. Any fresh pasta will become soft and mushy if left sitting for too long. For this Caprese chicken pasta salad meal prep, I use rigatoni, which I find to be the perfect size and shape.

Meal Prep Caprese Salad Meal Prep

Should I Rinse My Pasta?


Resist the urge to rinse! Any Italian grandmother will disown you if you clean your pasta, and for a good reason. Yes, this pasta salad is for meal prep and pasta clumps as it cools, but listen. The exterior starch on cooked pasta is pure gold. That’s what allows the sauce/dressing to stick to the pasta. Remember all those bland pasta salads you’ve had over the years? It’s probably because the pasta was rinsed, and the dressing slipped off. 

Meal Prep Caprese Salad Meal Prep

What Kind of Dressing Should I Use?


When making pasta salad for fresh meal prep, I tend to use chunkier vinaigrettes, like pesto. If the sauce is too runny, it will just slip off the pasta. The grated parmesan and bits of basil work wonders with helping the sauce cling to the pasta. I add a bit of lemon juice to loosen it up just a bit and add a little bit of acidity, but not too much. The other important thing about pasta salad meal prep is to add the dressing while the pasta is still warm. This way, the pasta won’t clump up and will absorb the dressing as it cools. For this reason, I always make some extra dressing in case I need to add more later.


What Kind of Fix-Ins Should I Use?


One of my biggest beefs with pasta salad is that it often contains a lot of raw vegetables that can make it soggy. For example, cucumbers and bell peppers have high water contents, and when they sit in an acidic dressing for too long, they can become soft and limp. In this Caprese chicken pasta salad meal prep, I use halved fresh and healthy cherry tomatoes, baby arugula, and fresh mozzarella pearls. These ingredients are classic in Caprese salad, and the tomatoes give a nice pop of texture and flavor. I also meal prep some sautéed chicken breast for some protein, but this is optional.

Meal Prep Caprese Salad Meal Prep

Caprese Chicken Pasta Salad Meal Prep


Serves 4


For the dressing:


2/3 cup basil pesto

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Pinch salt


For the pasta salad:


1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

8 ounces rigatoni or penne pasta

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

4 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls

2 handfuls baby arugula leaves

2 tablespoons prepared balsamic glaze


Make the dressing:


In a small jar, add the basil pesto, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Seal the lid, and shake vigorously until well combined. Set aside while you make the chicken and pasta.


Cook the chicken:


Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and sprinkle on a pinch of salt and pepper, and the garlic powder, dried basil, and dried oregano.


Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer, and cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. 


Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Slice the chicken, and set aside while you make the pasta.


Cook the pasta:


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until al dente. Allow to boil for another 1-2 minutes, or until the pasta is just a bit softer.


Drain the pasta well and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add most of the dressing, toss, and allow the pasta too cool to room temperature. Add the remaining dressing, and fold in the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and arugula leaves. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary. 



For meal prep, transfer the pasta to containers and top with sliced chicken. Drizzle on some balsamic glaze, and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.



I love meal prepping fresh and healthy pasta salad. When done right, the pasta retains some chew, with a well-seasoned dressing that sticks to the pasta. This Caprese chicken pasta salad meal prep is anything but bland, and all of the ingredients add flavor and texture. Juicy cherry tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella, and peppery baby arugula are the perfect add-ins, and the chicken adds protein. This is a great recipe to start with if your new to meal prepping. Once you get these tips and tricks down, your healthy pasta salad meal prep will be next-level. Imagine the pasta-bilities!



This Caprese Chicken Pasta Salad Meal Prep is the perfect answer to portion-controlled, fresh and healthy meal prep. If you live in Southern California and want more portion-controlled meals like this delivered to your door, My Healthy Penguin is a delivery service in Rancho Cucamonga that takes the guesswork out of meal prep and healthy eating. Delicious, wholesome meals are delivered to you on a weekly basis, making your journey to a healthier lifestyle a lot smoother and more consistent. Check out this week’s menu to get started and jump on the healthy meal prep bandwagon.

Meal Prep Caprese Salad Meal Prep


    • Will Todd @hangrywhitemale




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in What's New in Meal Prep

Best Meal Prep Delivery in Arcadia
5 Things to Do in Arcadia

September 15, 2020 3 min read

For those who live in Arcadia, there are tons of things to do in this area that can keep you busy for weekends to come throughout the year. For those who visit the area, they are going to find that they could easily fall in love with the area as well. So, what should you do while living in or visiting Arcadia? 
Read More
Meal prep delivery service in Azusa, California
5 Things to do in Azusa

September 09, 2020 3 min read

For those who live inAzusa, they are going to find that there are tons of things in the area and around that they can do during the day and weekends. These range from fun classes to awesome outdoor adventures that are going to be make from some must take Instagram photos to share with friends and family. With this being said, we have compiled a list of the top five things to do in Azusa. 
Read More
Best Meal Prep Delivery Service in Altadena
5 Things to Do in Altadena

August 24, 2020 3 min read

For those who visit Altadena or decide to make this their home, they are going to find that this is an area that outdoor enthusiasts simply love! However, there are tons of historical landmarks to visit, along with areas for great one of a kind shopping, so almost everyone finds something that they love when they come here. With this being said, here are the top 5 things to do in Altadena.
Read More

Subscribe Now