This Easy Pasta Salad is packed with fresh flavors and tossed in a simple basil and citrus dressing. It’s the kind of salad that keeps you coming back for another bite. So light and delicious, it’s one of our favorite weeknight meals during the warmer months and always a hit at potlucks!
Why We Love This Easy Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is one of my family’s favorites because it tastes delicious, it’s a great way to use up ripe tomatoes, and it’s an ideal dinner to serve to the whole family. Plus, one batch feeds a crowd, so it’s a great dish to share with friends.
The dressing is so light and refreshing and is absolutely perfect with fresh summer produce. This salad is also super adaptable. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, or toss in some grilled chicken. I highly recommend leaving those tomatoes in though.. they pair perfectly with the fresh basil and mozzarella. I used grape tomatoes here since that’s what we prefer, but you can use any that you like or have on hand—Roma, heirlooms, or other cherry tomatoes of any color.
Ingredients for Easy Pasta Salad:
- Pasta– I used farfalle (bowtie) pasta, but you can really use any pasta you have on hand.
- Mozzarella– I love using fresh mozzarella in this salad. If you can find them, the mozzarella pearls work great.
- Feta Cheese– The feta adds a nice salty bite to the salad.
- Tomatoes– I like to use cherry tomatoes here, but roma, heirloom, or grape tomatoes all work well.
- Bell Peppers– I used an orange for added color, but any color will do!
- Cucumbers– I like using thin-skinned English cucumbers. If using a regular cucumber, peel and remove the seeds before chopping and adding to the salad.
- Basil– This salad calls for both fresh and dried basil.
- Lemon– Go for fresh! You’ll use the juice and the zest for the dressing. Bottled lemon juice will work in a pinch, but you’ll get a much brighter flavor with a fresh lemon.
- Olive Oil– Olive oil is great, but a lot of times I will use avocado oil instead.
- Honey– Honey adds just a hint of sweetness to the dressing.
- Apple Cider Vinegar– I’ve only made this with apple cider vinegar, but I’m guessing that red or white wine vinegars would work great too.
- Salt & Pepper– To season.
How to Make Easy Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water, then put in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shaker bottle.
- Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces and put in the bowl with the pasta. Add the cheese.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
Tips & Suggestions
This pasta salad is really delicious in the basic version shown here, but here are a few variations you could do to customize it for your family:
- Make it dairy-free by using white beans or chickpeas instead of the cheese.
- Add shredded chicken or chunks of tuna to boost the protein.
- Change up the veggies! Try zucchini, fresh peas, asparagus, sliced carrots or baby spinach.
- Swap out the pasta for spinach or romaine for a delicious green salad.
We love it almost any way, so experiment and see what your family likes!
You can store this salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. If it gets a little dry, simply toss with a bit of extra dressing before serving.
More Tasty Salads to Try:
Easy Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces bowtie (farfalle) pasta, dry
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium lemon juiced and zested
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 medium orange bell pepper
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil cut thin
- 8 ounces mozzarella balls cut in half
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
- Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and rinse in cold water until completely cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, juice of one lemon, lemon zest, honey, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper.
- Chop cucumbers and bell pepper, slice tomatoes in half, and cut the basil into thin strips.
- In a large bowl, combine pasta, veggies, fresh basil, mozzarella balls, and feta cheese. Pour dressing over the salad and mix to combine.
- Serve immediately, or cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Pasta salad is best after it has time to let the flavors marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie