Pasta salad is such a classic summer dish. It’s perfect as a light meal but makes a great side dish for any backyard barbecue, picnic, or whatever gathering you have on your calendar. This cold pasta salad comes together in under twenty minutes with just a few ingredients and super simple homemade dressing.
Quick and Easy Summer Pasta Salad Recipe
For any pasta salad, the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to flavor combinations. I like to keep mine simple with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh dill. However, you can add other common pasta salad ingredients like olives, carrots, broccoli, etc. depending on how hearty you want to make your dish. (I toss in strips of salami for protein if I’m eating it as dinner.)
When it comes to pasta salad, the type of pasta DOES matter. You want the dressing to catch and stick, so a curly pasta like rotini is preferred, or any pasta with ridges or pockets.
For the pasta salad:
- 1/2 lb rotini pasta
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, (halved bocconcini or cut into small bite-sized pieces)
- A handful of chopped fresh dill
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make My Summer Pasta Salad
To make your pasta salad, cook your pasta al dente according to the instructions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, cut your tomatoes and mozzarella. If you can find bocconcini you can save some time on chopping, but it really doesn’t matter since bocconcini are simply little balls of mozzarella rather than one large one. Halve the bocconcini (or cut the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces) and halve your tomatoes.
Drain the pasta and let cool. In the meantime, make the dressing by combining the red wine vinegar, oil, and oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Make sure that your pasta cools almost completely to avoid soggy tomatoes and melted cheese. Once your pasta has cooled, mix all ingredients in a big bowl with the dressing and refrigerate until serving.
Tips to Serve Your Summer Salad
The great thing about pasta salad is that you can make it ahead of time. It’s actually preferred you do so that the pasta can marinate and soak up the dressing for a bit more flavor.
Pasta salad is best served cold, so keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. I like to give the salad one big toss before it hits the table, and I’ll add some salt and pepper and a little more oil if needed.
If you’re taking this pasta salad to a barbecue or party, the easiest way to transport it is in a glass bowl with a fitted lid. If you’re making it for a summer picnic, I like to pack the salad in mason jars so that people can grab individual servings.
Super Easy Summer Pasta Salad
For the Pasta Salad
- ½ lb rotini pasta
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup bocconcini or fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Handful of fresh dill, chopped
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano or italian seasoning
- Cook your pasta al dente according to the instructions. While the pasta is cooking, cut the tomatoes and mozzarella.
- Drain the pasta and let cool. In the meantime, make the salad dressing by combining the red wine vinegar, oil, and oregano in a small bowl.
- Once pasta has cooled, mix all ingredients in a big bowl with the dressing and refrigerate until serving.