This smoked mozzarella pasta salad is bursting with flavor and color! It’s the perfect vegetarian side dish to toss together for picnics, summer lunches or days when you want something cool and and fulfilling. It's inspired by Whole Food's famous smoked mozzarella pasta salad -- but better!
I love a good pasta salad during Spring and Summer.
It's almost like you're getting to eat ALL of the carbs while still enjoying all the perks of a fresh salad.
To me, that's a win-win!
What I love so much about this pasta salad is that it's marinated in a zesty green goddess dressing that's bright and flavorful.
This marinade plays perfectly with the smokiness from the mozzarella, the sweetness from the red peppers, the bite from the red onion, and the freshness of the baby spinach.
It's basically heaven in pasta salad form. For real.
And to be quite truthful, I didn't make this pasta salad recipe up out of thin air.
It's inspired by one of my favorite salad bar options from Whole Foods.
Although I love theirs, I always find myself adding extra lemon juice and brightness to it because it always just tastes a little dull... even though it's absolutely delicious regardless.
Also, to be real, maybe I'm just doing that because I freakin' love lemon juice since I'm pregnant!
Anyways, back to the subject, since I don't have a Whole Foods anywhere near me, I wanted to try to recreate this pasta salad on my own.
Guess what happened after I did so? I liked it even more than the original which is also a win-win for me because now I can have it whenever I want!
Did I mention it's super easy too?! So let's get to it before I drool on my keyboard.
Ingredients - what you'll need
- fresh parsley
- fresh basil leaves
- garlic cloves
- olive oil
- rigatoni pasta or whatever you'd like to use
- fresh spinach
- marinated red peppers
- red onion
- smoked mozzarella
- salt and pepper
How to make it
The first thing you'll want to do to make this smoked mozzarella pasta salad is to get some water boiling. You want to make it salty like the ocean so the noodles are flavored perfectly!
Cook the pasta al dente then strain and shock with cold water.
Meanwhile, it's time to make the zesty herby green marinade that goes with it!
Either in a food processor or blender, add half of the mayo along with all of the parsley, basil, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil. Add a big pinch of salt and blend until it's smooth and bright green.
Once it's combined, stir in the rest of the mayo to thicken the sauce back up. If you do it all at once, the mayo will break and the sauce will be oily.
After the pasta has been shocked with cold water, pour it into a large mixing bowl and toss it together with the sauce.
Now stir in the fresh spinach, marinated red peppers, red onion, and smoked mozzarella cubes.
Give it a taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. If you think the pasta salad could use more zing, feel free to squeeze more lemon juice into it!
Eat immediately or place in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
I should also mention that my husband thinks its better the second day around but I like it better on the first!
Other cheeses to try it with
If you don't have smoked mozzarella or can't find it, don't sweat it! There are plenty of other cheeses you could try.
I recommend trying to find a smoked cheese because the flavor just pairs so nicely with the zesty green herby marinade. Try using a smoked cheddar, smoked gouda, or smoked gruyere if you can.
But if you can't find a smoked cheese, this pasta would be delicious with fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese.
If you wanted a firmer cheese, you could try fontina or sharp white cheddar!
What to pair it with
If I were making this tasty smoked mozzarella pasta salad for a picnic, I would definitely recommend pairing it with some of these konbi inspired egg salad sandwiches or these curried chicken salad sandwiches.
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Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
for the marinade
- 1 cup mayo divided
- ½ cup parsley
- 10 basil leaves
- ½ cup Parm
- 2 small cloves garlic
- ½ lemon
- ¼ olive oil
- Salt and pepper
for the salad
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta such as Delallo
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 12 oz jar marinated red peppers diced
- ¼ medium red onion iced
- 1 8 oz block smoked mozzarella diced into small cubes
for the marinade
- In a food processor, combine half of the mayo along with all of the parsley, basil, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a hefty pinch of salt. Blitz until combined and then stir in the rest of the mayo. (If you do it all at once, the mayo will break)
for the pasta salad
- Prepare the pasta al dente according to the directions and then rinse with cold water.
- Pour the cooled noodles into a large mixing bowl then toss with the sauce.
- Stir in the fresh spinach, marinated red peppers, red onion, and smoked mozzarella.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Eat immediately or place in the refrigerator up to 5 days.