This 20-Minute Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad is fresh, fast, and so flavorful! The perfect quick and easy Summer Pasta Salad recipe. Make it for your next party, picnic, or BBQ!
Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad
Can I tell you a little secret? If this wasn’t a baking blog, it would surely have one of the following names:
But I think you get my point. Pasta is my passion! So if you’re a fellow pasta fanatic, today’s post is dedicated to you ♥
Tomato Basil Pasta Salad
- Farfalle pasta: I have a strong preference towards farfalle, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it! Feel free to use penne, elbow noodles, or fusilli instead. Rigatoni could work in a pinch, but I find noodles with crevices shine best in pasta salad. They catch all that yummy dressing!!!
- Cherry tomatoes: Tomatoes fresh from the garden are ideal! But any variety could work here. I’ve even used sun-dried tomatoes!
- Red onion: Thinly sliced, this gives the salad a nice kick.
- Marinated mozzarella balls: You can use unmarinated if need be. If you love cheese, add a little grated Parmesan cheese to the salad, too.
- Fresh basil leaves
- Garlic: Be sure to use FRESH garlic! And not just garlic powder.
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Granulated sugar
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Cold Pasta Salad
- Make the dressing! Place the basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth. There should be no large chunks of anything! Set aside or in the fridge until needed.
- Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. But make sure you pull it off when it’s still al dente.
- In the meantime, prep the remaining ingredients. You’ll want to slice the cherry tomatoes in half; thinly slice the basil and thinly slice the red onion. Set these ingredients to the side.
- Remove the mozzarella cheese balls from the oil and set them aside, too.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it and rinse under cold water until cool, about 1 minute.
- Place pasta in a large mixing bowl. Then add the dressing to pasta and toss. Next add the tomatoe mixture and mozzarella balls. Toss well to combine.
- Serve at room temperature, or chill until needed.
Can cold pasta salad be made ahead of time?
Yes, this recipe can be made in advance! In fact, I think it tastes best after 24 hours in the fridge. It allows the flavors to mingle and develop. Plus, who doesn’t love a big bowl cold tomato basil pasta salad waiting for them in their fridge?! If you’re going to make this pasta salad in advance, just be sure to cook your pasta al dente. Overcooked noodles will quickly get mushy in this salad, and that would be a shame! I find 7 to 8 minutes at a full boil is usually perfect – but this will vary depending on the variety and brand of pasta you choose.
While we’re on the subject of the dressing, you can make that ahead of time, too! Just be sure to cover it well and store it in the fridge.
How long does pasta salad last?
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Sometimes I make a batch at the beginning of the week so I can enjoy a bowl everyday for
I like keeping this 20-Minute Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad very simple and vegetarian friendly! But feel free to bulk it up by adding grilled chicken or shrimp. Or add more veggies like broccoli, arugula, or avocado. It’s very adaptable! Made as is, this pasta salad is perfect for picnics, BBQ’s, and other outdoor Summer events. Just stir it every so often to keep it looking fresh.
This is basically SUMMER in pasta salad form… I hope you make it and enjoy it!
For more Pasta Salad Recipes:
- 20-Minute Greek Pasta Salad
- 20-Minute BLT Easy Pasta Salad
- 15-Minute Italian Pasta Salad
- 20-Minute Rainbow Veggie Pasta Salad
- Vegan Spinach and Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad
If you try this recipe for Cherry Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta Salad, let me know what you think! Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #bakerbynature on instagram! Seeing your creations makes my day ♥
20-Minute Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
For the Basil Dressing:
- 2 ounces fresh basil (1 really big handful!)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional, but it adds a nice sweetness)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes OR freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 pound farfalle pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- (1) 12 ounce container marinated mozzarella balls, removed from oil
- 2 ounces fresh basil, thinly sliced (1 really big handful)
For the Basil Dressing:
- In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar (if using), salt, and pepper. Pulse on high for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed, or until smooth. There should be no large chunks of anything! If there is, continue blending. Set aside until needed.
For the Pasta Salad:
- Place a large pot of salted water over high heat; bring to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes.
- While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, prepare the vegetables. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half; thinly slice the basil and thinly slice the red onion; set aside until needed. Remove the mozzarella balls from the oil and set aside.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it at once and quickly rinse it under cold water until cool, about 1 minute. Place cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add dressing to pasta, then add the tomatoes, basil, onion, and mozzarella balls. Toss to combine.
- Serve at once, or chill until needed.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen says
I definitely laughed out loud at those blog names! This looks so fresh & perfect for summer, love it!
I love laughing out loud; glad I did that for you!!
Kate (What Kate is Cooking) says
Haha, I love the fictional blog names 🙂 The first one describes me perfectly!
Your photos are SO beautiful. I hate tomatoes, but your photos of them have me drooling!
Tomatoes are pretty photogenic; lucky them!
Hannah at FleurDeLicious says
This looks soooo good. Everything I dream about in a pasta salad. Thanks so much for checking out my sweet and salty cake, so glad I found your blog that way! Can’t wait to check out the rest!
sweet and salty is a match made in heaven.
Ha! I love those alternate blog names! And, this dish looks really great, especially now that the warm weather is here.
I can’t bear hot food when my skin is melthing; ya know what I mean?
Grace @ Balancing Me says
Caprese salad always reminds me that summer is officially here!
I love making this recipe but your version certainly looks a lot tastier than mine. What kind of camera are you using? Also, I would have absolutely bookmarked and visited “CrankyWithoutCarbs” on a daily basis 😉
Last thought: I wish fresh mozzarella weren’t so expensive to get!
I think maybe I should trademark these names in case pasta really is my calling…
I use a Nikon rebel xti; it’s the love of my life and has flour and sugar encrusted on it…
Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) says
This looks so lovely for a hot Texas al fresco dinner! I don’t eat olives, but suppose I could up the rest of the ingredients a bit to compensate. I get cranky without carbs as well…I could eat pasta every night, but I limit myself to once or twice a week.
You could try adding capers… or just omit and enjoy!
Great looking pasta salad, I’d say post food that makes you happy – who says bakers can’t cook. Looking forward to seeing more of your delicious creations.
Jen @ keep it simple foods says
So simple, yet so delicious. Love the flavors in this dish!
Great blog names!! And even better cold pasta dish! Love the seasonal fresh ingredients, so pretty and healthy! A big bowl of this for dinner and leftovers for lunch – perfect!
The leftovers are even tastier; no lie.
Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen says
Hahahah such perfect blog names! Thanks for the laugh and the great recipe–I ADORE pasta! 🙂
Does this ever sound good! I’m never afraid to add extra garlic, as I love the flavor, but I always have to have gum, mints, mouthwash, or ALL on hand. Speaking of garlic, there’s a restaurant near me called the Stinking Rose (It’s been on the Travel Channel, etc.) and I’m dying to try it. Apparently they use so much garlic that cabs won’t pick people up from the restaurant because they smell so bad after the meal. Now that’s serious!
I have seen that on the travel channel! You have to go and let me know how it is, and I would recommend driving given the can situation… walking home smelling like a garlic field is never good.
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
Thanks for visiting my food blog. I am a pasta person myself. Can’t get enough of daily carb doses 😉 These recipes looks so delicious with summer staples from a local farmers market. And I love your food photography. Go girl!
I am so delighted to finally see GREEN items at my greenmarket!
Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free says
Yessss I love summer salad recipes! This is killing me it looks so good. I love garlic so much and am so happy that you aren’t afraid to use an abundance!
Nicole Franzen says
Pasta salad like this is literally one of my favorite things to eat during the summer. Love it
Well… can I tell you a secret? Check back often… cause I am obsessed with pasta salad. I will share it all with you. xx
Oh my gosh, this looks so tasty!! I’m also a fiend for pasta of any shape, size, or variety. An absolute fiend. I’m definitely going to make this next week…thanks for sharing!
I’m glad you found my ridiculous toilet-cleaning post I shared earlier today 🙂 A friend called and said, “Um, did you just blog about your TOILET?” Ha! Seriously, it’s a great tip. Let me know if you try it, and I’ll definitely be back to visit your awesome site soon!
I am so with you here! I am cranky and starving all day long without carbs! I hear some people are gluten-intolerant these days. Me? I’m intolerable without gluten.
Oh let me tell you; I tried gluten free living for a few weeks (to figure out why the heck I was sick all the time) and it was horrible! No pasta and no beer can lead to a very cranky gal.
Cheryl Barker says
Thanks so much for visiting my blog today! Always fun to meet new folks. The cherry tomatoes in this post are beautiful!
This post cracks me up and makes me hungry all at the same time. Really great! I love the pictures of the tomatoes in the little baskets. Are the the baskets made out of ceramic? I must find some of those.
They are ceramic; found them a few weeks ago at anthropologie.
This salad looks beautiful. Perfect for a warm day!
[email protected] says
This is such a lovely colourful summer pasta!
Apron Appeal says
I really want those mozzarella balls and pine nuts but I know this salad will be just fine without them. (allergies) I’m really hungry and this sounds great.
You could always throw in other topping your not allergic to; I seem to be allergic to Spring this year!
Thanks so much!
The Waspy Redhead says
I’m so glad you visited my blog and left a comment – because it led me back to your blog, with which I am now OBSESSED. I’m tearing up at the hilarious website names you listed, and this pasta salad looks delicious!
Glad to make new foodie friends.
Elizabeth aka Waspy Red
Foodie friends are totally the best part of food blogging. Wait… or maybe the food is?
I call it even.
Barefeet In The Kitchen says
Two posts in and I’m already subscribing to your blog. You are cracking me up tonight. I adore that pasta salad. I make one very similar, but I’m going to try yours soon! And chocolate pudding? Are you kidding me? I spent 20 minutes earlier today looking for an awesome make from scratch pudding! Couldn’t find one that appealed to me at all. What are the odds that you were reading my future thoughts when you posted that one? ha. That recipe is now in my soon to be tried file. Thanks!
You are too sweet for words! Seriously… I ate 90% of that pudding. Ironically enough I have a boyfriend who diets… like what?!? Make it, please!!!!
I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first found out garlic was good for you (not like I needed any excuses to use it in everything!). Love this dish.
It’s such an added bonus that it’s actually gooooood for you!
This salad looks amazing! I made a similar one two days ago, but less garlic-y. I’ll have to give this one a try!
The garlic gives it an extra kick; if you like that kind of thing.
sheila @ Elements says
Your pictures are making me drool! What a wonderful pasta!!! And it’s healthy to boot! 🙂
Rhonda Matheson says
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This sounds amazing!!
Fae Seda says
i’d love to share this posting with the readers on my site. thanks for sharing!
Thank you for your working for us. I want to make this salad. This recipe is fit for my family. I’ll try it tomorrow.
You’re very welcome, Tatiana! I hope you’ll come back and let me know how it turns out 🙂
Arman @ thebigmansworld says
I could eat this for my entire meal- Yum!
This looks amazing! I am making it tonight. Just to make sure — this calls for 8 ounces total of basil?
Yes! I know it’s a lot, but it adds great flavor 🙂
Of course! I didn’t have that much (I really need to plant more basil) so I only used about half. It was delicious but I think the proper amount would taste even better! Thanks for my new favorite dish of the summer! Making it again this weekend. 🙂
I too thought that 8 oz of basil seemed a bit much. I didn’t use nearly the amount. I think the pasta salad still turned out great, but plan to add a bit more basil next time. I was afraid it would be too overpowering. I have a feeling this will be my go to pasta salad recipe for a while. I think I may add some pine nuts next time as well. They are super yummy in pasta salads.
Great idea to add the pine nuts! I made this yesterday for the 4th if Juky! Big hit!!
Made this last month and loved it! Although I do have a question about the amount of basil, you say 8oz do you mean by volume or weight. It seemed way too much when I bought the basil by weight. Will be making it again this weekend.
My dressing came out completely green (almost like a green smoothie) because of the amount of basil used. Definitely didn’t look like the picture but was delicious regardless. Also curious about the onion being put into the dressing in the video but not in the recipe.
Just finished making it. Surprised how easy it was but how fancy it tasted.
Sue Hachigian says
No one has mentioned the fact that the video for the dressing shows red onion being added, yet it is not one of the ingredients listed for the dressing. Is it to be included, and if so, how much? I want to make this for a cookout on Sunday, September 3, 2017. Thank you!
If I am making this a day ahead of time, do I put the dressing on before it goes into the fridge or when I am going to serve it?
Thank you!! It looks great. I am going to bring it to a holiday party since it’s so festive.
When you say large 8 bowls,does that mean for 8 people or could 1 bowl feed 2 people?
mozarella is very tempting
I made this yesterday. It took me quite a bit longer than 20 minutes. Lol. I doubled the recipe. Big hit for the 4th of July! It was fabulous!!!
I made this and it turned out very green and looked nothing like the picture. How was yours not green with 4 oz of basil which is more tha 2 cups packed?
I just made this, and it came out so green, as others have noted. Boyfriend accused me of doing something wrong, because it looks nothing like the photo. It didn’t seem properly balanced at all. What did I do wrong?
Hi Kat. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this recipe. The dressing in my photos is actually green (if you look at the first photo the noodle in the front and the mozzarella ball show that color). But you could reduce the amount of basil for a less green dressing.
Thank you i added boiled eggs fresh grated zucchini very tasty salad would not add my stuff again.
Amanda Teran says
Thank you for this tasty recipe. I had lots of regular tomatoes and basil from my garden and this was the perfect recipe to use them for. I just chopped them up into smaller pieces instead of using cherry tomatoes. It went over great at our church BBQ.
Carma McMichen says
This was excellent. I threw in some parboiled asparagus because I had some I needed to use but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. The pesto was perfect. Made lots, invite a crowd.
ROBIN BREWER says
I just made this salad and it is amazing! So fresh and aromatic without being overwhelming! Thank you for sharing the recipe! 🙂
Super simple with lots of flavor! Needed something quick and easy to use some fresh basil and tomatoes from my garden. This recipe did not disappoint!!
This went over very well for a party I took this too. The hostess even wanted a container of it before I left (not that there was much left). Since I didn’t buy marinated mozzerella balls, I put them in the dressing as the pasta cooked and added everything as I went, ending with the pasta. I did make about 50% more dressing since I had some extra mozz, and I didn’t use all the pasta, only to reserve it for home eating! I will make this again!
This is just what I was craving and it’s perfect since I still have some tomatoes to harvest and the basil plant is still going strong. Well, the mozzarella will have to be bought. Thanks for the recipe!
Wonderful recipe! So easy and quick to put together. Used different coloured mini tomatoes to add colour to dish.
Ashley Manila says
So happy it was a hit! Love using multi-colored tomatoes, too!
I made this yesterday to bring to a superbowl party and wow! It was a huge hit. Every single person loved it and commented on it. There wasn’t any left by the end of the night. I followed the recipe as is and added Parmesan as suggested in the blog and it was to die for. I was nervous about the amount of basil but it wasn’t too much, it was just right. I cannot wait to make this again. This will now be my go to dish to bring to parties.