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Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina - a terrific summer side dish

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina

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Perfect for picnics, pot lucks and summer gatherings, this Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina is definitely a crowd pleaser.

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina

I had a version of this pasta salad years ago at a Cub Scout dinner. Usually, pickings were rather slim. Bags of chips, grocery store cookies, etc. were spread out across the buffet table. This simple side dish was a standout with rotini pasta, fresh herbs and ripe tomatoes. I loaded up my plate. Then I went back again. The young scouts were ignoring this, but I happily ate their share!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina

A Winner All Year Long

I’m a huge fan of tomato, basil and cheese salads like this Chopped Caprese Salad. I used to avoid making anything with fresh tomatoes any time except the summer. Pale, tasteless, grocery store tomatoes are a waste of money. But now with super-sweet cherry tomatoes available all year long, you can enjoy this pasta salad even when ripe garden tomatoes are not in season. Or wait until your backyard crop is ready to harvest and make it over and over again!!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina

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Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina

A simple pasta salad with sweet ripe tomatoes, pasta shells, herbs and chunks of cheese!

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 12 mins
  • Total Time: 32 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish, Salad, Pasta
  • Method: Boiling, Mixing
  • Cuisine: American, Italian-American

Ingredients

  • 22 ounces (I used 2 11-ounce packages) super-sweet cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (or a similar amount of ripe garden tomatoes, peeled seeded and coarsely chopped)
  • 34 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 12 teaspoons minced fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound pasta shells (I used conchiglie)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into small cubes

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, add tomatoes, garlic, basil, mint, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Gently toss and let sit at room temperature 1-2 hours.
  2. Cook pasta in well salted water and drain well. Add the pasta to a large bowl and add some of the oil from the tomatoes and toss to combine. After the pasta cools for about 10-15 minutes, add the tomatoes and mix to combine. Add the cheeses and toss.
  3. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

Adapted from Winners, the Junior League Cookbook from Indianapolis.

Total time does not include marinating time.

 

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina | Perfect for pitch-ins,, picnics and summer entertaining!
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19 comments on “Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina”

  1. you have inspired dinner tonight thanks liz!

  2. I would go back and back again for this salad too. And hope that others would pass it by! 🙂

  3. What a terrific side for any occasion! I love the combination of flavors and textures. And it’s so pretty too. I would pile this on my plate anytime 🙂

  4. That looks like a winner pasta salad!!! Yum – no wonder you kept going back for more.

  5. That’s a simple and very satisfying meal!

  6. This looks great! Love it with all that good cheese, and it’s perfect for cookouts!

  7. This is definitely my kind of salad lovely and fresh.

  8. Very visually appealing. I would add some chickpeas in my version also. I think this will go well with pesto and or mint sauce and a drizzle of olive oil

  9. I would have ignored this when I was a young cub too. Because, well, I was a young cub and didn’t know any better! Now? I’d load my plate too! Really nice — thanks.

  10. This looks fantastic! I can’t think of a better way to use fresh tomatoes and basil!

  11. Dear Lizzy, A perfect salad for the beautiful summer tomatoes and bbq’s. xoxo Catherine

  12. I remember those dinners! And not fondly except for the kids! I would have been thrilled to see this on the table! Sounds great, Liz!

  13. Love these pretty shells, dear! xoxo

  14. I love salads like this! This one looks like the perfect way to use up the cherry tomatoes and basil that will soon be in abundance in our garden!

  15. This is my kind of pasta salad – I’d happily eat this all summer long!

  16. I spent the afternoon in my garden, my winter crop of tomatoes are just about ready. Perfect for this delightful dish. Can’t wait to try it! 🍅🍅🍅

  17. I’m sure this is one that I would serve repeatedly. Even the pickiest eaters in my family wouldn’t turn this down!

  18. This is such a delightful salad! I could eat pasta every day!

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