Prep 1 hr
Cook 10 mins
This is a great little side dish for a BBQ and much healthier than the typical mayo-based macaroni salad. Olive Oil is packed with mono-unsaturated (good fats) and can help to achieve balanced cholesterol levels. I usually serve this at room temperature, but I've also served it hot and topped it with grilled chicken for a quick weeknight dinner.
- 1 1⁄2 cups bite-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut into quarters
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1⁄3 cup Italian salad dressing (I like using the Good Seasons packet dressing)
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 lb whole wheat bow tie pasta (I use barilla plus)
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- salt and pepper
- Toss the mozzarella and cherry tomatoes with the Italian dressing. Cover and refrigerate. If I'm making this for dinner, I usually get the cheese and tomatoes in the fridge to marinate a few hours before I plan to assemble the salad.
- In a skillet on low heat, heat the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook on low for 5-10 minutes allowing the garlic to soften (but not brown) and infuse the oil.
- Meanwhile, boil the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Set the pasta mixture aside to cool.
- Once the pasta is cooled, add the cheese and tomatoes along with the dressing marinade. Season the salad with salt and pepper and top with 3 tablespoons fresh basil.
Needs more tomato, and adding torn up pieces of FRESH basil, take it to another level, and your house will smell like heaven. I use 16 oz., brie cheese torn into small chunks, 4-5 chopped tomatoes, FRESH chopped basil, 4-6 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt & pepper. Let that sit in a large bowl, for a few hours, so the brie softens. Your home will smell like heaven. When you pour the drained hot pasta, over the brie, it just melts to perfection. Adding grilled chicken and or shrimp, is another addition to this great summer meal! I gave it 4 stars, because sauteing the garlic is not necessary.
I should have reviewed this long ago, as I make it fairly often, and it's always a hit. I do love a pasta salad without mayo! I agree with Demandy that more tomatoes and cheese are nice. And as a confirmed salt and pepper addict, I grind these liberally, but that's personal preference not a criticism of this lovely recipe!