There was a time that I thought the only good rotini pasta salad came from a box. But my homemade version is proof that you can get big flavor without that flavored powder and those all too familiar dehydrated vegetables.
Suddenly salad was my jam for years. And I’ll admit that I still sort of cling to the bacon ranch version from time to time. My MSG receptors must still be on high alert.
But I’ve had a plan to continue to taper away my boxed crutches and this rotini pasta salad was one I knew I wanted to master on my own so I could share it with you–and it’s done!
True to form with 99% of my recipes, you can adjust this a million and one ways. If you don’t like an ingredient I used, change it or leave it out of yours. It won’t hurt it.
What goes in to a cold pasta salad
Anything you like! In this case, we are using fresh mozzarella balls (also called bocconcini), tomatoes, black olives, and banana peppers because apparently pepperoncini are impossible to find in Kentucky. We’ll make our own dressing but if you really want to use a bottled Italian, that’s okay too.
Tips for the best rotini pasta salad
- Use any short pasta you like. Rotini is best because it holds the dressing in its grooves, but if you wanted to use penne, cavatappi or tri-colored rotini, it will all work.
- I used fresh mozzarella here. You’ll find that as small balls in water. Here’s what they look like. If you can’t get bocconcini, you can use a ball of fresh mozzarella that’s not in water. Just don’t use your kids string cheese or something. That’s not what we’re after here.
- Make your pasta a day ahead or at least a few hours ahead if you can so that the flavors can meld. You’ll be surprised what a difference a little time will make to the flavor.
Are you ready to bring this rotini pasta salad to life in your kitchen? Tag me on social media @feastandfarm and let me know what you add to yours!
Rotini pasta salad with mozzarella and tomatoes
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook rotini according to package directions. Drain, set aside while you make the dressing.
- Make the dressing by adding the Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Then with a whisk, stir briskly while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the pasta (it's fine if it's a little warm), the mozzarella, peppers, olives, tomatoes and onion. Add the dressing and stir to combine. Give it a taste for seasoning and add any additional salt or pepper if needed.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Stir before serving and add a drizzle of oil if it looks dry.