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Best Ever Italian Pasta Salad

Best Ever Italian Pasta Salad

This best ever Italian pasta salad is really going to change the way you think about pasta salad because it is so good. Though the ingredients are simple and similar to other pasta salad recipes, the techniques when making this dish is what really makes it shine.

I am going to confess that I am NOT a big fan of pasta salad.  I’ve tried many varieties and to me they all lack something.  Until this recipe came along, the only pasta salad I would eat was my pesto pasta salad, that was it.

I honestly thought over the years that I would just never come around to being a fan of this type of dish until I tried a recipe from Williams-Sonoma many years ago.  It really is amazing and over the years after making this dish quite often, I have tweaked the seasoning quantities to what I think is perfect!

The flavors are a little zesty from the balsamic vinegar, a little heat from the garlic and cayenne and delicious freshness from the mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.

This is now one of my favorite dishes to eat. I can seriously eat it every week.

italian pasta salad ingredients

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this Italian Pasta Salad:

  • Pasta
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

I do not recommend substituting any of the ingredients. The fresh ingredients and the balsamic are what make this dish so amazing. You can adjust the quantities however and it will still be amazing. I love adding a little more balsamic and cayenne pepper!

As I mentioned above, the reason this pasta salad recipe is so good is because of the techniques used to make it. If you follow them, you will have the perfect pasta salad!

Italian pasta salad table setting

Here are the steps to make this delicious pasta salad:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Blanch tomatoes to remove the skin.
  • Boil your pasta.
  • Slice your garlic
  • Next dice up your tomatoes.
  • Make your balsamic sauce.
  • Cut up your fresh mozzarella .
  • When your pasta is cooked, add it to your bowl with the sauce and toss well.
  • Taste for seasoning
  • Once it is perfectly seasoned to your taste, add your fresh mozzarella.
  • Plate and serve!

This is a dish that is often requested by my friends and family. The great part about this Italian pasta salad is that it is not served hot but warm (more like a warm room temperature) and can be used in lunches or picnics because there is no meat. Just make sure you pack a mint because of the garlic 🙂

This zesty Italian pasta salad is great any time of year but it is the best in the summer when basil and tomatoes are in abundance.

pasta salad closeup

So you like Fresh Pasta Dishes! You will also like these:

Best Ever Pasta Salad

A delicious and perfectly seasoned pasta salad that you will love.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4


  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 4 cloves of garlic sliced paper thin
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil sliced thin about 1/4 cup sliced thin
  • 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella about 8 ounces you can also use small mozzarella balls (called bocconcini) and dice them up.
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes diced I like to use roma tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 good pinches of cayenne pepper more if you like the heat
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Grab your tomatoes and with a sharp knife cut a little x shape on the bottom.
  • Add your tomatoes to the boiling water for 1 minute then remove and run under cold water.
  • At the spot where you cut the x in your tomatoes, grab the skin and peel it off the tomato and set aside to cool.
  • Boil your pasta according to instructions on box for al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, slice your garlic as thin as possible and place in a large bowl.
  • Next dice up your tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cayenne pepper, a pinch of salt and pepper and basil to the bowl then mix and let it sit to let the flavors come together.
  • Cut up your fresh mozzarella into small 1/2 inch cubes and put aside.
  • When your pasta is cooked, add it to your bowl with the marinade and toss well.
  • Taste for seasoning such as salt, more balsamic etc. based on your taste. I almost always add a pinch or dash of something at this stage since I like a lot of cayenne pepper and lots of balsamic.
  • Once it is perfectly seasoned to your taste, add your fresh mozzarella cubes and toss again.
  • Plate and serve!


(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

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