Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina
Perfect for picnics, pot lucks and summer gatherings, this Tomato Basil Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Fontina is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
A twist on a Caprese Pasta Salad with a double dose of soft cheese! Plus, this simple Pasta Salad Dressing is a breeze to prepare.
Why You Must Make this Pasta Salad!
I had a version of this pasta salad years ago at a Cub Scout dinner. Usually, pickings were rather slim at those events. 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!
- This Easy Pasta Salad is simple to whip up!
- It’s perfect for all your summer gatherings.
- The Pasta Salad Dressing is a no-brainer! In fact, it makes itself!!!
Caprese Pasta Salad
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 at any time except in 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 Caprese 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!!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad, dating back to the 1920s. Its made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh leaves of basil, seasoned with salt, olive oil, and/or balsamic vinaigrette. The colors of the salad echo the colors of the Italian flag.
How Do You Make a Pasta Salad?
There are 3 components to a pasta salad: the pasta, the add-ins, and the dressing. To make, just cook and cool the pasta, prepare the salad dressing, and chop any additional ingredients. Most pasta salads benefit from some time in the refrigerator, so toss and let the flavors meld. Toss again before serving.
How Do You Store a Pasta Salad?
Almost all pasta salads have perishable ingredients like mayonnaise, meat or cheeses. It should not be left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours to minimize the chance of food poisoning. If it hasn’t been at room temperature too long, it can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: Pasta salads do not freeze well.
What to Eat with Pasta Salad?
Pasta salads are perfect summer side dishes and go great with simple grilled entrees like burgers, brats, chicken. They’re lovely with a simple BLT when your garden tomatoes are ripe.
Pasta Salad Dressing
You may have read the teaser above that this easy pasta salad recipe has a dressing that makes itself. Yes, that’s right.
The tomato juices, garlic, and herbs combine with the olive oil that’s added and tossed with all the other ingredients. This mixture coats the pasta, tomatoes, and cheese and makes one super summer pasta salad!!!
More Summer Salad Recipes You’ll Love:
- Greek Pasta Salad from Spend with Pennies
- Mexican Sweet Corn Pasta Salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
- Creamy Pasta Salad from Barefeet in the Kitchen
- Burrata Caprese Salad with Balsamic Pearls
- Off-Season Caprese Salad
- Plus a more traditional Pasta Salad Recipe
- More Salad Recipes
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This post was first shared in 2017. The text was updated in 2021.
- 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)
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1-2 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve at room temperature.
Adapted from Winners, the Junior League Cookbook from Indianapolis.
Total time does not include marinating time.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 639mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 16g