If you read this post about outdoor entertaining this easy Italian pasta salad might look familiar… but because I know you love easy recipes as much as I do, this needed it’s own post! Honestly, this is what I thought pasta salad was when I was younger. I’ll never forget the HORROR I felt when I discovered most people make pasta salad with mayonnaise. TBH, I’m still not over it 😂
Now that I’ve been exposed to different approaches to this dish, I always think of that version as “American”, whereas this is an Italian pasta salad recipe! It gets all of it’s flavor from fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and garlic – and who needs mayo when you have that trifecta?!
If this seems too simple for you, you an also think of it as a base that you can add to. A few fun additions could be thinly sliced red onion, fresh mozzarella cheese (fresh, not shredded!), marinated kalamata, green or black olives, and bell peppers. Note that none of those things require any additional cooking either! The goal of Summer cooking, especially when entertaining, is to stand over heat as little as possible, right?
Easy Summer Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
8 roma tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1.5 lb farfalle
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus more to taste)
Chop the tomatoes and mince the garlic. Add both to a bowl with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 1-2 hours or overnight (put it in the fridge if you’re going to wait that long though!). The flavors will meld together and create the “sauce” for the dish.
You could certainly make a homemade Italian dressing instead (olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbs), but you really don’t have to. I’m a big fan of acid in most dishes, but this is one that I don’t feel the need to squeeze lemon or add vinegar to. It’s perfect in it’s simplicity!
When you’re ready to serve, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add to the olive oil, tomato, and garlic mixture.
Stir to combine. Add fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Stir again.
Taste test! Add more salt and pepper if it needs more seasoning, or more olive oil if it’s too dry.
Serve with extra parmesan cheese nearby in case anyone wants it!
Tips For Serving The Perfect Italian Summer Salad
I love that you can serve this warm, room temperature, or even as a cold pasta salad. No need to stress about timing when this is on the menu!
If it’s been sitting out for a while before people dig in, I usually toss a little bit more extra virgin olive oil and parmesan into the bowl to freshen it up. There’s not need to add a ton (you don’t want to drown it!), just enough to keep the pasta moist.
If you have any vegan friends coming over, keep parmesan cheese on the side and let you guests add their own to the pasta!
If you have any lactose-intolerant friends coming over, add Pecorino Romano cheese instead! This cheese is made from sheep’s milk, so most people who can’t eat lactose can still eat this. I learned about this when my sister-in-law found out that she is lactose intolerant and it’s an easy swap my family can do so she can still enjoy the food we make for family dinners!
You can also easily alter this recipe depending on how many people you are serving. I usually assume 1 pound will feed 4 people if it’s a main dish, 6 if it’s a side dish. Even though most people won’t have more then 3/4 cup cooked pasta if it’s one of their side dishes, I’m Italian, I always want to make sure there’s enough!
Because the flavors are really simple, you can serve this with any grilled meat, grilled corn, fresh fruit, or even burgers! It’s also great to bring to someone else’s BBQ if the person hosting asks you to bring a side dish!
- 8 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 lb farfalle
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus more to taste)
- Chop the tomatoes and mince the garlic. Add both to a bowl with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 1-2 hours or overnight (put it in the fridge if you're going to wait that long though!). The flavors will meld together and create the "sauce" for the dish.
- When you're ready to serve, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add to the olive oil, tomato, and garlic mixture.
- Stir to combine. Add fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Stir again.
- Taste test! Add more salt and pepper if it needs more seasoning, or more olive oil if it's too dry.
- Serve with extra parmesan cheese nearby in case anyone wants it!
This can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Easily adjust the recipe if you have more or less people at your party!
Feel free to add other flavors/textures in there. Some easy additions could be chopped red pepper and marinated olives.
What is in your version of a good pasta salad? I’d love to know!
Also, I might be a little MIA this weekend because I’m heading to the East Coast today to see some family and friends! I’ll be in Connecticut today and then I’ll make my way to Long Island on Friday – with a VERY quick pit stop in Manhattan in between. Instead of stressing myself out to rush from Grand Central to Penn Station, I’ve been trying to figure out where to stop for lunch to treat myself. I have one place in mind… be sure to watch my stories to find out where I go!
I’m really excited to disconnect a bit and spend time with two of my closest friends from college and meet their babies (they both have 2 now – what?!), and then spend quality time with my Aunt, Uncle, cousins and my oh so fabulous Nana. Can’t wait!