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This easy pasta salad is vibrant, flavorful and about to be your new favorite summer staple.
I didn’t grow up eating pasta salad. My dad felt strongly that pasta, or macaroni as we called it, was meant for sauce, meatballs and Sundays. It, unlike revenge, was best served piping hot. I completely subscribed to his theory up until several years back when having a couple of finicky eaters in my house meant lots of leftovers, especially plain pasta.
Instead of tossing those leftovers, or scarfing them down in a clean plate club panic, I decided to throw caution to the wind and get creative. I went the old school picnic mayonnaise route; the antipasto route with chunks of meat and cheese and pepperoncini; the cold pasta primavera (all the veggies) route. And you know what? Dare I say, I liked them all. Turns out you can have pasta on Sunday smothered in sauce and cheese and still like pasta salad. Sorry Dad, unlike Donny and Marie, we can be country AND rock and roll.
So today let’s take a walk down the pasta salad path. This recipe starts with freshly cooked pasta, still warm enough to absorb the dressing. Now, that said, you can make it using leftover pasta, but I suggest rewarming it slightly, maybe with a tablespoon or two of water before tossing it with the dressing. This salad is basically a twist on a classic Italian caprese salad. And if you’re a regular visitor to the blog, you know I love me some caprese like here and here. Today the pasta is the base, tossed with balsamic dressing and then fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and arugula are folded into the mix.
This Italian pasta salad is super easy, fresh and vibrant. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish. I like it served warm or at room temperature, but you can make it ahead and store it in the frig until you’re ready to serve it. If you’ve been searching for your perfect summer side (low maintenance and tasty), this is it. It made a convert out of me and I’m guessing if you’ve been pasta salad skeptic, it will out of you too.
- 1 lb box farfalle pasta, cooked according to pkg directions
- 10 oz grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 1 pint bocconcini, halved (or fresh mozzarella, chopped)
- 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 small clove garlic, very finely minced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
Whisk together the garlic, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Add the olive oil, while steadily whisking, in a steady stream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combined cooked farfalle (still warm) with the remaining ingredients.
Add dressing and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.