Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad

This is my go-to summer pasta salad. I have been making it for many years now, and it has become a favorite. I have brought it to picnics, baby showers, bridal showers, and it is usually welcomed by all. It is really simple to make and doesn’t need a long chill time in the fridge like most pasta salads.

Another nice thing about this salad is that it takes advantage of two of the best flavors of summer: tomato and basil. In my mind there aren’t too many other flavors that taste more like summer to me (except maybe peaches and sweet corn). It makes an excellent side dish for anything cooked on the grill, plus the leftovers make a nice light but satisfying lunch.

Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad (inspired by a recipe I saw in Better Homes & Gardens)

  • 3/4 pound medium-sized shell pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can of large pitted black olives
  • 8 ounces fresh cherry-size mozzarella balls
  • 1 jar (3 fluid ounces) nonpareil capers
  • 1 jar (8.5 ounces) julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain in a large colander. Sprinkle vinegar over the pasta and stir to prevent pasta from sticking together. Season with salt & pepper.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Season with salt and pepper and put in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the olives in half and add to the tomatoes. Cut the mozzarella balls in half, season with salt & pepper, and add to the large bowl.
  4. Add the capers and sun dried tomatoes to the large bowl. (Don’t add too much of the capers’ brine or the tomatoes’ oil to the bowl. A little bit is OK, but you don’t want it to get too soggy.)
  5. Add the pasta to the large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and mix together.
  6. Cut the basil into strips. If you are going to serve the pasta salad immediately, go ahead and stir it into the salad. If you want to serve it later, lay the basil on top of the salad, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Mix the basil into the salad right before serving.
Serves 6
Time: 25 minutes
Notes: This salad tastes best at room temperature. If you make it ahead and refrigerate it, bring it out to warm up a bit before serving. Also, check the seasoning and add additional salt, pepper, and/or vinegar if necessary. If the salad seems dry (which might happen if you refrigerate it), add more olive oil.
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