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Cherry tomato pasta salad recipe

Cherry tomato pasta salad recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Salad
  • Vegetable salad
  • Tomato salad

A light and refreshing pasta salad packed with sweet cherry tomatoes, olives, garlic, fresh basil and chives.

17 people made this

IngredientsServes: 7

  • 300g pasta shells
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small jar black olives, pitted and halved

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:10min ›Extra time:1hr chilling › Ready in:1hr25min

  1. Cook pasta with garlic in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside, reserve garlic.
  2. Mash garlic with a fork and mix well with oil, vinegar, basil, chives, salt and pepper.
  3. Combine pasta, tomatoes and olives. Pour over the dressing; toss well to coat and chill for at least 1 hour.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2)

Reviews in English (1)

This was absolutely delicious! Made it exactly as written. Nice change from the same old boring lunch routine.-30 Mar 2015


Caprese Pasta Salad with Garlic Marinated Tomatoes

This easy caprese pasta salad recipe steeps cherry tomatoes in a garlic-infused oil that becomes the dressing over any type of pasta with sliced mozzarella, capers, lemon, and basil making it a healthy potluck recipe that’s perfectly ripe for brunch, lunch, or a dinner everyone will love.


This is a re-do of one of my favorite tomato pasta salad recipes I published my first year of blogging. I’ve been making this caprese pasta salad on repeat ever since the clock struck summer, but it’s very likely that many of you haven’t ever even seen it, and that’s a darn shame because it’s just too good to miss.

So after looking at it so many times already this summer, I thought it could use a refresh. And so here it is once again, with a spit shine, some new photos, and a video to show you easy it will be for you to make it too.

I’m a huge fan of summer’s fresh tomatoes, especially when my garden starts producing my beloved cherry tomatoes I pop straight into my mouth like candy. So back in August of 2011 when I spied this recipe on the Martha Stewart Living cover peeking over the others on the grocery store rack, there wasn’t a question whether the issue would be coming home with me.

And that’s why this salad has been in my summer recipe-making-repertoire ever since.


Caprese Pasta Salad Notes & Tips

This dish might seem a little watery after you stir the pasta into the tomatoes, but don’t worry. Give it a 20-minute rest and you’ll find that the pasta absorbs some of the moisture and the sauce thickens up.

Mozzarella “pearls” seem to be pretty easy to find these days (they are little mozzarella balls about the diameter of a dime). If you can’t find them, you can buy a standard mozzarella ball and tear it into smaller pieces, or cut any mid-sized mozzarella ball (Ciliegine) into smaller pieces.

The balsamic vinegar is a key component here. If your finished dish doesn’t quite taste spectacular, add a little more of it.

Use white balsamic vinegar if you can (it’s generally available next to the regular balsamic in the vinegar aisle), but regular balsamic will work, too.

If you want to stretch this recipe a bit to serve a larger crowd, use 8 ounces pasta and 3 pints of cherry tomatoes. Then add some extra basil and vinegar, to taste.

You can get by using less olive oil, if you’re worried about using 1/3 cup here. But I think it’s totally irresistible as written.


  • ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 ½ tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat bowtie pasta
  • 8 ounces fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed (about 2 cups see Tip)
  • 2 cups red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for cooking pasta.

Meanwhile, puree cottage cheese until smooth in a blender or mini food processor. Add buttermilk and oil process until smooth. Scrape into a storage container and stir in dill, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add peas and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water.

Place pasta and peas in a large storage container and toss with tomatoes and scallions. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, toss salad with dressing.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the dressing and salad separately for up to 8 hours.

Tips: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make &ldquosour milk&rdquo: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.

To remove the stem and strings at the same time from sugar snap peas, hold the stem between your thumb and index finger, snap and pull down.


Cherry Tomato Salad Add-Ins

This is a very simple salad, with a balsamic-ey, slightly sweet dressing (thank you honey, love you honey). You could also add in plenty of other things—cubed mozzarella, olives, other herbs (basil is a classic—I went with oregano because I’m just that crazy). Other vegetables would be good, diced young zucchini or summer squash, sliced or diced cucumber, diced onion—raw or sautéed.

But you will not be disappointed if you stick with only tomatoes. And you can have this whole salad on the table in …I’ll say 10 minutes.


  • 175g frozen peas
  • 350g fusilli pasta
  • 360g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 ball mozzarella, roughly torn
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 7g basil, roughly torn

Cook the peas for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the pasta to the water and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Grill for 6-8 minutes, or until the tomatoes are just starting to soften.

Gently heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pan and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for a minute or two, without colouring. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the pan.

Roughly crush the peas with the back of a fork and add these to the pan with the grilled tomatoes. Add the mozzarella, lemon zest and basil and toss everything well to combine. Season and serve.


Place pasta in a large skillet or sauté pan and cover with water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil until just shy of al dente, about 1 minute less than the package instructions recommend.

Meanwhile, heat garlic and 4 tablespoons (60ml) olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until garlic is softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until tomatoes begin to burst. You can help them along by pressing on them with the back of a wooden spoon as they soften.

Continue to cook until sauce is rich and creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

When pasta is cooked, drain, reserving 1 cup (240ml) pasta water. Add pasta to sauce and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly and adding reserved pasta water as necessary to adjust consistency to a nice, creamy flow. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil, and grate in a generous shower of Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, passing extra Parmesan at the table.


Ingredients you’ll need

Here is a visual overview of the ingredients in the recipe. Scroll down to the recipe at the bottom for quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Cherry tomatoes: I used regular, but feel free to use mini Roma tomatoes for more flavor. You can also use a mix of different colored cherry tomatoes, if you can get a hold of them!
  • Red onion: I love the red onion in this salad! Feel free to leave it out if you’re not a fan, or replace it with green onion or even chives for a milder flavor. You can also use white onion if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Olives: I used a mix of green and black olives marinated in olive oil. Packed in water is perfectly fine, too. I highly recommend buying pre-pitted olives. You can also use pre-sliced (I used whole pitted and just cut them in half).
  • Fresh basil: This is my favorite part of this salad, I just love the smell and taste of fresh basil and tomatoes together. If you don’t have any fresh basil, you can also use fresh parsley and/or fresh oregano.
  • Balsamic vinaigrette: I make my own balsamic vinaigrette for this, but feel free to use a cup of bottled balsamic dressing or Italian dressing.
  • Balsamic cream: I like drizzling this on for some extra balsamic flavor, but feel free to leave it out.

Pasta salad with roasted tomatoes

For someone who is patently terrified of all the offerings in the deli case pasta salad universe — the tri-colore, mayo-slicked, sugar-sweetened, canned tuna-flecked, curry powder-ed, and dotted with green peppers, raisins or ohgodboth — I sure spend a spectacular amount of each summer trying to come up with cold pasta preparations I’d find agreeable. I know that there’s one out there I could love and could love me back, but although a few attempts have gotten me closer, and even temporarily sated, my perfect picnic pasta salad eluded me.



Late last summer, I began forming an idea of how to make this, a pasta salad that would be loud, punchy and full of texture where others are mellow and limp. My notes are adamant about a well-toasted crunch, such as pine nuts, a good salty crumbled cheese, like ricotta salata or feta, chopped black olives, such as those oil-cured ones I was slowly developing an affection for, and pasta taken off the stove when it’s an aggressive al dente, even two minutes before tender “doneness” instead of one, so that no matter how long it soaks in dressing, it does not collapse. But I got stuck on the last ingredient, because what I really wanted in there was not those “sun-dried” tomatoes you find in dry-packs and jars, but these wondrously slow-baked oven tomatoes, all chewy, tart and intense.



Alas, I knew they’d be a deal-breaker because they take hours to dry out in the oven, and that’s just the tiny ones. Nobody is going to spend hours preparing the single ingredient of a pasta salad. Nobody. I get it. But I did, and I regret nothing. In my defense, I cooked them in less than half the time by bumping up the temperature and keeping them a little juicier than the classic, but not compromising any tomato intensity. A handful of fresh chopped basil and a gentler version of this oregano vinaigrette we fell in love with last year (my husband’s brilliant suggestion for this) make this everything those pasta salads of my nightmares are not — fresh and bright, balanced and light — and the only thing I want to eat on all of the summer days ahead.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

As with most pasta salads, the ingredients here are flexible. I’ve outlined what I used, but should you not be into olives, or salty cheese, or pine nuts, no reason not to skip them or swap them with something you like better. Yes, you’ll need 90 minutes for the tomatoes, but I promise, you will not regret the time you waited for them, because this long, low roasting time turns even grocery store grape tomatoes into something intense, tart and magical, and the ones from your garden into their highest calling. You can make them the day before, too, or make double what you need, planning ahead for future pasta salads. They keep well in the fridge up to five days, drizzled with additional olive oil. For the pasta, promise that you’ll only cook it to 1 to 2 minutes before full doneness. Mine had quite an al dente bite, harder than I’d want it in a hot dish when I drained it, but held up beautifully even after it soaked up the dressing for a couple hours. Limp pasta makes me sad.

Roasted tomatoes
4 cups (about 680 grams) grape tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt

Oregano dressing
1 big clove or 2 small cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano (if you can find it, Sicilian is my favorite)
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Assembly
1 pound (455 grams) dried pasta, a bite-sized shape of your choosing (I used reginetti), cooked until 1 to 2 minutes before doneness and drained
6 ounces (170 grams) crumbled salty cheese, such as ricotta salata, feta, queso fresco
1/2 cup (70 grams) pine nuts, well-toasted and cooled
1/2 cup (70 grams) pitted and rough-chopped olives of your choice (I used gaeta here, but like them even more when oil-cured)
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Roast tomatoes: Heat oven to 300°F (150°C). Cover 1 to 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Cut each small tomato in half lengthwise and arrange cut side up in a single layer on prepared sheets. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in oven for approximately 90 minutes, until somewhat shriveled and dry to the touch, but not fully dehydrated. Set aside until needed, letting them cool. [Note, if you pine nuts are not yet toasted, you can place them in the oven for the last 10 minutes, shaking them once or twice for even coloring. Let cool as well before using.]

Make dressing: Roughly chop the garlic on a cutting board, then add oregano, salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mince the mixture with your knife until it’s a grainy herb paste. Transfer to a small bowl, whisk in lemon juice and vinegar, then slowly drizzle in oil, whisking the whole time. Taste and adjust as needed you might need more salt or vinegar. You want a strongly flavored dressing that won’t get lost in that big bowl of ingredients.

Assemble salad: In a giant bowl, place drained pasta, roasted tomatoes, cheese, pine nuts and olives and toss gently to combine. Add dressing to taste, along with any extra salt and pepper needed. Finish with basil. Salad can be eaten right away, but will keep in the fridge up to 3 days. This is also perfect for picnics and potlucks, as it can handle being out in the sun without going south.


Pesto, Feta, and Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

A five-ingredient pasta salad that comes together in no time.

Unlike our classic pasta salad, this quick and easy pasta salad doesn't call for making a vinaigrette. The sauce: store-bought or homemade pesto. Its bright basil flavor makes the whole dish so good, we prefer keeping the mix-ins fairly simple. Hence the cherry tomatoes and feta. That said, the simple base of pasta + pesto is highly customizable. Have some extra goat cheese or leftover roasted veggies? Toss 'em in! Another big takeaway from this recipe is that orecchiette (Italian for "little ears") is a seriously underrated pasta salad noodle. The little cup shapes traps so much sauce (and cheese!).

If you want to make a pesto with a twist, consider our make-ahead End-Of-Summer Pesto Pasta Salad In A Jar. (Instead of pine nuts, we incorporate walnuts into the basil, garlic, and olive oil.)

Made this recipe already? Let us know how you like it in the comment below. And don't forget to give the recipe a star rating! We love hearing from you!