Last week, Justin informed me that his team at work was holding a pot luck for lunch one day. Naturally, it became my duty to whip up a dish for him to take along. For practical reasons, I knew that creating a dish to be served cold would make the most sense – the process of reheating something in the one shared microwave in the office kitchen didn’t sound like a good plan.
So, a pasta salad it was! Now I will admit: I am NOT the biggest fan of most pasta salads, but this one is absolutely the exception to the rule for me. No mayonnaise is involved (yay!), and the other ingredients pack a lot of flavor. Plus, it was inspired by the wonderful Ina Garten. I spotted her recipe for Tomato Feta Pasta Salad and thought it sounded fabulous. So, I adapted it a bit to suit my tastes.
It’s a great dish to serve up in the spring and summer months when you want something a bit cool. This recipe yields quite a bit, so be prepared to have leftovers if you aren’t serving a crowd. And don’t worry – leftovers for this recipe are awesome.
I was also excited to whip this pasta salad up so I could make use of my fresh basil from the garden! We recently planted a few basil plants among our tomatoes and peppers, and finding uses for the leaves is always a perk! Basil is definitely one of my all time favorite herbs. Let’s all hope that my plants continue to thrive…
And another fun little perk of this recipe? If you get sick of eating the leftovers cold, you can always pop a dish of the pasta salad in the microwave to create a hot dish! The vinaigrette turns into a seasoned olive oil sauce, and the mozzarella chunks melt deliciously between the noodles. How can you beat a recipe that can serve double duty? Love.
So tell me, are you a fan of pasta salad?
Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Inspired by/adapted from Ina Garten
1 lb box fusili pasta (or other pasta)
3.8 oz can sliced black olives
1 lb mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1. Boil fusili pasta in salted water to desired texture (I prefer al dente) – drain and allow noodles to cool.
2. When pasta is cooled, place noodles in a large bowl with the diced tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, black olives, and 1/4 cup of the chopped sundried tomatoes. Toss until combined.
3. To create the vinaigrette, combine the additional 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor/blender. Process the ingredients until smooth. This amount of vinaigrette will lightly coat the pasta salad (as pictured). If desired, increase the amount of vinaigrette to suit your taste.
4. Pour vinaigrette over pasta mixture, add chopped basil, and toss gently until combined.
5. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!