This pasta salad is ideal for potlucks, parties and even your own lunch! Paired with its light pesto dressing it makes this summer staple an irresistible must!
This delicious pasta salad boasts cheese-stuffed tortellini, fresh mozzarella, veggies and aromatic herbs. For optimal results, double-dressing should always be practiced — this allows the noodles and ingredients to absorb as much flavor from the dressing as possible.
This Italian sandwich-inspired pasta salad is packed with fresh, flavorful ingredients and a delectably tasty pesto sauce, making it the ideal side dish for dinner parties, cookouts and potlucks. Plus you can prepare it ahead for quick lunch or snack options in your fridge! With tender pasta tossed with juicy tomatoes and creamy mozzarella cheese tossed together into an easy “shortcut” pesto sauce this recipe makes an amazing side to pair with almost anything you grill this summer!
This pasta salad is an easy, fast and tasty meal to whip up quickly! Make the salad your own by choosing any kind of pasta you have on hand; we suggest choosing something with ridges, twists or tubes so the dressing will cling onto them more efficiently – corkscrew, fusilli, penne or rotini are great choices; try even using gluten free pasta for an entirely vegan option!
Key to creating an excellent pasta salad is making sure that its noodles are al dente; this allows them to absorb all of the flavors without becoming soggy or soft. Furthermore, always double-dress your salad whether using creamy or vinaigrette-based dressing; pasta salad easily soaks up dressing so this step ensures all of its components are coated and season accordingly.
Add some creamy mozzarella to this salad for an extra creamy texture and pop of flavor! Feel free to experiment with different cheese varieties such as crumbled feta or goat cheese for something different, too as well as different vegetables such as roasted red peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli florets or radicchio for variation.
Just before serving, be sure to reserve some of your favorite herbs as garnish – this will add beautiful green hue and an extra-fresh, delicious taste! As with all pasta salads, be sure to taste before offering so as to adjust seasoning as necessary.
With only five ingredients and minimal preparation time required, this easy pasta salad recipe will quickly become your go-to weekday lunch or dinner option. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop before enjoying!
Make this fast, delicious pasta salad ahead of time for potlucks, picnics, BBQ’s or lunch. Everyone who tries it absolutely adores it! Boiling pasta may seem daunting at first but even that process is simple; toss with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella for an irresistibly creamy pesto sauce and top off with some shredded chicken or marinated shrimp to complete your main course dish. Plus it’s vegan- and gluten-free so perfect for accommodating various diets.
You can adapt this basic recipe to meet your preferences by switching up ingredients and vegetables as needed. For instance, brown rice or farro could replace pasta as an additional bulk-builder; to increase protein intake add some grilled chicken, shrimp (or diced smoked salmon!) before serving alongside this salad; alternatively add cooked and crumbled sausage, grilled tempeh or baked tofu as meat-free alternatives!
Use your favorite Italian salad dressing – be it store bought or homemade! Basil pesto offers the most authentic experience; however kale, spinach or any other herb-based pestos would work just as well. I suggest adding some sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for an added layer of rich texture; this step is of course optional!
Substitute any green vegetable of your choosing in place of peas – frozen, petite or canned are all fine; fresh is always preferable though! Try adding chopped scallion or red onion for additional flavor and crunch. Fresh or dried chives or parsley would also work perfectly well!
Baby spinach and arugula add extra color, texture and nutrients; you could use any leafy green that you have available instead. I like adding in diced or sliced olives if they’re among my favorites – black kalamata or whatever variety works for you.
Refrigerating this salad before refrigerating will bring out its full flavor, keeping it for several days in an airtight container or ziplock bag in your fridge.
When creating large batches of pasta salad for serving at a barbeque, picnic, or potluck it’s beneficial to start by precooking the noodles so they can cool while assembling all of your ingredients. Doing this makes sure that overcooking doesn’t occur and thus ensures an amazing product when serving it at its final destination! Precooking noodles is simple — simply drain and rinse before placing in an airtight container until ready for use in your refrigerator.
While the pasta cools, create the pesto sauce. Doing it in a food processor is easy – simply pulse together basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese until combined before gradually adding oil drop by drop. If you don’t own one you could also chop all ingredients by hand in a small bowl before slowly drizzle in oil drop by drop.
This pasta salad features not only pasta and pesto sauce but also features other delicious components for extra flavor and texture. Shredded chicken (rotisserie works great here!) provides protein and can either be mixed into the other ingredients prior to serving or added directly over top as desired. Diced tomatoes can also be found here – be creative in choosing your own variety!
Finish off this salad with a light vinaigrette made with Italian dressing and additional lemon juice, homemade or store bought; extra fresh greens such as baby spinach or arugula add nutrients, crunchiness and color. Add cucumber slices for additional moisture and flavor, along with other vegetables such as bell pepper, halved cherry tomatoes and grated carrots, radishes or beets (roasting cauliflower and beets is ideal in fall and winter). If olives aren’t your cup of tea, swap out for Kalamata olives or tapenade for an enhanced flavor profile. This salad makes a delicious side dish at barbecues, picnics and potlucks as well as being an irresistibly light summer lunch option!
Tender pasta, juicy tomatoes and creamy mozzarella cheese all tossed in an easy pesto sauce makes this salad extra special – the ideal addition to BBQ’s, potlucks and summer gatherings! Make it ahead and serve it either as a light lunch or alongside any entree such as chicken, pork brisket or even salmon for an amazing dining experience. It also works well as vegetarian option if served alongside some roasted or grilled vegetables or chickpeas on the side!
Nutritional yeast and lemon juice add brightness to this pasta salad, while mayo provides body without making it too cheesy. Baby spinach gives this dish an extra dose of greens that keeps this salad satisfyingly fresh. You can either purchase store bought Italian salad dressing or use our easy basil vinaigrette recipe!
This recipe can be prepared up to one day ahead and refrigerated, just be sure to let the pasta and tomatoes reach room temperature before combining with other ingredients. If the pasta becomes mushy while sitting in its sauce, add some of its reserved pasta water into the salad to hydrate and create more tender texture.
Make it even more delicious by trying different pasta shapes – fusilli, cavatappi (corkscrew), farfalle (bow-tie) or penne would work especially well in this salad! Additionally, switching out mozzarella for another type of cheese such as feta, goat cheese or even crumbled pepperoni could turn this dish into an exciting pizza-inspired pasta salad!
Top this pasta salad off with toppings such as toasted pine nuts, fresh basil or balsamic glaze for an exquisite meal. Other delicious veggies for addition include marinated artichoke hearts, red onion slices, roasted red peppers, cucumber and blanched broccoli or cauliflower for extra texture and depth of flavour.
If you want to add protein to this pasta salad, shredded chicken or grilled shrimp would make excellent options. You could also stir in chopped salami, capers, or pepperoni for an extra savory crunch. Vegans could sub out the mozzarella for cubes of goat cheese or feta instead; for a gluten free option try swapping out traditional pasta with quinoa or another kind of grain you enjoy!