Best Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote

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This is hands down the Best Pasta Salad. THIS is what I bring to a summer barbecue and it’s always the first to disappear. This salad features a bright assortment of colors, textures and flavors everyone will love. Briny 🫒 olives, fresh tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and rich sundried tomatoes make for the perfect bite. Plus, creamy bocconcini cheese takes it right over the top. Have fun with the pasta shape as well: 🎀 bow ties, fusilli or rotini would all work!

Why You’ll Love This Best Pasta Salad

Whether you host or are being hosted, this is the perfect salad to make at home or bring along with you. I love it because I can make a huge batch up to 2 days in advance and it keeps beautifully in the ❄️ fridge until I need it. My Best Pasta Salad is totally customizable, too. Use whatever ingredients you have in the fridge and adapt the spices to what you prefer. Just remember to always to measure with your 🩷 heart!

How to Prepare This Best Pasta Salad

🔥 In a pot on the stove, boil the pasta in salted water as per the package directions for al dente.

💦 Strain the pasta and let it cool completely.

🔪 Now, using a sharp knife, slice the olives and sundried tomatoes, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, dice the cucumber and finely chop the parsley.

🍅 Add the chopped ingredients to a bowl with the cooled pasta and 2 tablespoons olive brine.

🫒 Add the bocconcini cheese, oregano, salt, olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.

🥣 Toss the salad together, cover, refrigerate and enjoy.

Nonna’s Tip 💦

The boiling water should be as salty as the sea when cooking your pasta. You can taste and adjust for extra salt later, too.

Best Pasta Salad

Variations and Substitutions for This Best Pasta Salad

  1. If you’re plant-based or dairy-free, please omit the cheese or add in your favorite non-dairy variety.
  2. Experiment with additional ingredients such as artichokes, capers, 🫑 bell peppers, red onion, or even salami pieces.
  3. You can play with the salad dressing here as well and use an 🌿 herby pesto sauce instead of a vinaigrette or dark balsamic vinegar instead of white.
  4. You can use whatever cheese you have such as feta cheese, cubed mozzarella or goat cheese.
  5. Have fun with the pasta shape as well: 🎀 bow ties, fusilli or rotini would all work!
  6. Feel free to add a protein to this Best Pasta Salad, such as grilled chicken breast pieces, tofu or shrimp 🍤.

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Best Served With

Common Questions

Can this salad be made ahead?

Yes, this Best Pasta Salad stores beautifully covered in the refrigerator up to two days before you serve it. If it gets a bit dry, simply drizzle with olive oil and toss just before you serve.

What can I use instead of pasta?

You can definitely swap the pasta for quinoa, bulgar or farro.

Can I add protein to this Best pasta salad?

You can certainly add protein to this dish. Try grilled chicken pieces, tofu, or shrimp. You could also swap the orzo for quinoa as well.

can I make this salad gluten-free?

Yes, if you are gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta here instead.

what other cheese varieties will work in this recipe?

I think feta would be delicious here, as would goat cheese, cubed mozzarella or burrata pieces.

can I use another salad dressing here?

I’ve kept this salad dressing really simple, so feel free to amp it up however you’d like. Pesto would be delicious here, too.

Best Pasta Salad

Best Pasta Salad

Whether you host or are being hosted, this is the perfect salad to make at home or bring along with you. It can be made 1-2 days in advance and it’s absolutely outstanding every single time.
5 from 1 vote
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 6 people
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 500 grams Fusilli pasta , 6 cups approximately. You can use any short, dry pasta you like.
  • 1 cup pitted olives + 2 tablespoons olive brine
  • ½ cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Bocconcini cheese , optional
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley , finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • cup olive oil, more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, to taste

Instructions 

  • Boil any pasta of choice as per the package directions and make sure the pasta water is a salty as the seat as it’s your only chance to season the pasta.
  • Drain it and let it cool completely, it has to be fully cooled down. Add the rest of the ingredients once the pasta is nice and cold and give it a stir.
  • Cover it, refrigerate and enjoy. You are more than welcome to adjust or add more olive oil the following day if it feels dry.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 528kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 578mg, Potassium: 628mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 533IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 123mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tasty and customizable. Was looking for a pasta salad recipe with the ingredients I already had on-hand and this was it. Made the dish to recipe, with the exception of using fresh basil and feta crumbles instead of fresh parsley and cheese balls. The white balsamic and olive brine gave it a great non-standard flavor. Can’t wait to try it after it sits overnight!

    1. Hi there, I don’t calculate any of the nutritional information at the moment because every product/brand holds different nutritional values. Please plug in your ingredients into an app like my fitness pal for best and most correct results ❤️