Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

tomato basil pasta salad

One of my favorite parts of summer eating is trying out and experimenting with new recipes, especially ones that don’t involve the oven. And my favorite type of summer meal is pasta salad. I love that it’s loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, and that the only thing I have to turn on is the stove (and even that’s only for a few minutes). And who doesn’t love pasta?

Though I have my time-tested, family-approved Easy Pasta Salad recipe, we decided a little while ago that it was time to try something new.

The original recipe called for rotini pasta, but I like using shells. For some reason, this grocery trip I got the small shells though I meant to get medium, which I think work best with this. Either way, it’s a hit — there are never any leftovers!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

1 lb medium shell pasta
1 to 1-1/2 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
1/3 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
fresh grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Mix together the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, and basil. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Mix pasta with the tomato mixture until well combined and refrigerate until ready to serve (at least four hours).

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan on top.


Easy Pasta Salad

Easy Pasta Salad

Though it’s a very low number, there are a few meals that the girls and I love that Mike isn’t crazy about. These end up being the dinners that I make when he’s out of town for work so I don’t feel guilty about making him eat something he doesn’t like (not that I would, but sometimes it’s been so long since we’ve had one or another that they end up on the menu anyway!).

One of those meals is, to my amazement, pasta salad.

I mention this because he actually used to love it as much as we did. He’s explained that the combination of the oil and vinegar dressing, the cheese, and even the tomatoes just, well, got old. And while I understand tastes changing, this made me sad for one reason: I thought for sure I’d be making it a lot less!

However, he’s been in charge of a gigantic project at work for the last year or so which involves travel to their out-of-state locations. For those nights, I tell the girls to come up with the dinners that they miss, and that’s what we have.

So this past weekend was one of those occasions, and the votes were unanimous: I was making pasta salad!

I started making this about 12 years ago, when the twins were babies, because I could get it done early in the day and have nothing to do in the evening, when the crazies seemed to hit everyone. (Now that I think about it, my hmm… over-reliance? on this easy meal could be one of the reasons Mike got tired of it!)

Easy Pasta Salad

I always double the recipe when I make it because it makes the perfect lunch the next day, too. I finally ended up using my last two boxes of free pasta from last spring!

Easy Pasta Salad

I also just use packaged provolone. You can buy it at the service deli in a big block, but I actually like using the pre-packaged slices. It cubes up just fine, and truth be told, the dryness of the provolone can get a little boring in big chunks, so being able to break them up a little bit is nice.

Easy Pasta Salad

Good-bye, free pasta.

Easy Pasta Salad

Like I said, if you’re feeding more than three people, double the below recipe if you’d like leftovers. (I don’t double the cheese, however, and there’s still plenty of it.)

Heather’s Easy Pasta Salad

1 16 oz package of penne
1 c halved cherry or grape tomatoes
6 oz provolone cheese, cut into cubes

2/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tsp dried basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tb Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp onion powder

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a blender, combine oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, mustard, salt, sugar, and onion powder until well blended.

Pour dressing over pasta and add the tomatoes and cheese, stirring gently until just combined. Refrigerate until serving (at least four hours).