This Creamy Mediterranean Pasta Salad With Mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, red onions, homemade Italian dressing, and fresh herbs is refreshing but creamy and comforting at the same time! Perfect as a summer main or side, great for BBQs, parties, picnics, or just because!
CREAMY MEDITERRANEAN PASTA SALAD WITH MOZZARELLA
Hello internet friendssss!! Today I made you this Creamy Mediterranean Pasta Salad With Mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes, red onions, and homemade Italian dressing. I gotta get through this freakin heatwave and pasta salads are IT!
Now, I don’t know about you but I like my pasta salads creamy *CREAMY*! Like, I want a ton of dressing and I want it sneaking into my pasta, which is why I like using rotelle or rotini for this recipe. I love saying rotelle and rotini. Fun words.
Anyway. The great thing about this pasta salad (other than being really easy to make and perfect for bbqs, etc), is the dressing. The freakin homemade Italian dressing. WOW. It’s stellar. So please, don’t skip it. This pasta salad really needs her (homemade) dressing.
WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED FOR THIS CREAMY PASTA SALAD?
- Fresh mozzarella. You can get ciliegine, pearls, or even regular mozzarella balls. I like using regular mozzarella balls and cutting them into small cubes: this way the mozzarella will absorb part of the dressing which means more flavor!
- Tomatoes. Cherry, grape, or regular tomatoes will work! I usually prefer cherry tomatoes for this recipe but whenever I’m out of cherry/grape I use regular tomatoes! You could get away with using fresh tomatoes but I recommend roasting them, it’s a quick & easy process (I do it on the stovetop) but the flavor will be much more intense!
- Red onion. I like using fresh onion because it’s nice and crunchy and it adds texture and color (not to mention flavor… again, lol) to this delicious pasta!
- Homemade Italian dressing. More on this below! Please take the time to try this dressing instead of using store-bought because it’s incredibly easy to make and it makes such a huge difference, it will really take your pasta salad to the next level!
HOW DO YOU MAKE ITALIAN DRESSING FROM SCRATCH?
You simply combine all these ingredients into a bowl and mix until smooth and fully blended, that’s it!! Keep reading for some extra tips! 🙂
- Extra virgin olive oil. This is *the* base of your Italian dressing, you really want to invest in a bottle of high-quality olive oil because you’ll be able to taste the difference between cheap olive oil and high-quality (been there, done that 🙁 ). HQ olive oil isn’t overly strong or bitter but some more inexpensive brands definitely are and that can ruin your dressing!
- White vinegar. Same thing as above, make sure the vinegar you’re using is good quality! I prefer white vinegar but red vinegar will work too. If you don’t like vinegar you can use some fresh lemon juice instead!
- Mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Make sure they’re room temperature before combining them with the other ingredients!
- Parmesan. I recommend getting a small block of parmesan cheese and grating it at home if possible as pre-grated cheese is coated with chemicals (to keep it from clumping up) and those chemicals might prevent it from melting and blending into your dressing. If you’re in a rush, you can still use store-bought, it’s okay.
- Sugar and Salt. You need a bit of both to keep things balanced!
- Herbs. I usually like dried herbs but you can totally use fresh for even more flavor (use more if using fresh). You’ll need oregano, basil, garlic, and black pepper.
- Pepperoncini or red pepper flakes for some fun & heat, it’s optional but if you like spicy food (I do!!) I totally recommend adding crushed/minced pepperoncini or red pepper flakes!
CAN PASTA SALAD BE MADE AHEAD?
GIRL! Pasta salad *should* be made ahead! In fact, pasta salad tastes better the day after you make it! Just make sure to cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator.
HOW LONG WILL PASTA SALAD LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
I wouldn’t store it for longer than 2 days but most people have stored it for up to 3 days with no problems. Usually, when a recipe contains ingredients like olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, I never exceed the 2-day rule just to be on the safer side.
HAPPY COOKING BABES!! I hope you’ll love this Creamy Mediterranean Pasta as much as I do!
Please leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating if you make it! I LOVE hearing from you! <3
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Creamy Mediterranean Pasta Salad With Mozzarella
For The Pasta Salad
- 1 pound uncooked pasta use gluten-free pasta for GF eaters
- 3 cups cherry, grape or regular tomatoes cut in half or cubed
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella like ciliegine or regular mozzarella balls cut in half or cubed
- 1/2 cup slice red onion
- 2/4 cup pepperoncini optional
- Fresh basil optional, chopped, for topping
For the Homemade Italian Dressing (makes 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise room temperature
- 1/4 cup high-quality white vinegar red vinegar will work too but the dressing might have a stronger flavor
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard room temperature
- 2 tsp white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 dash red pepper flakes optional, not necessary if you're adding pepperoncini to the pasta
- Cook your pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a little vegetable oil to keep it from sticking. Cover and set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is hot, add in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to burst out of their skins and are fragrant (about 6-7 minutes), then remove from heat and allow to cool down before moving onto the next step.
- Meanwhile, make the Homemade Italian Dressing. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix together until fully combined and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. You can also use a blender for this step.
- In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together: pasta, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, sliced red onions, pepperoncini (optional). Add in some of the dressing and reserve the remaining dressing for serving (or leftovers). Cover with plastic wrap and pop in the refrigerator. Chill for a few hours or up to 2 days. Pasta salads usually taste better the day after you make them 🙂