This Tuscan-inspired pasta salad is light and bright. It's filled with a mix of both juicy fresh tomatoes and chewy sun-dried tomatoes, mild black olives, creamy fresh mozzarella, and peppery arugula and tossed in a simple garlicky red wine vinaigrette. It can work alongside whatever you happen to be serving this summer, and is as fresh as the season itself.
A Simple Vinaigrette Is the Secret to a Lighter Pasta Salad
For years I turned my nose up at pasta salad because all I knew was the kind sold in tubs at the grocery store coated in a goopy dressing. Only when my dad started making his own pasta salad using packets of Good Seasons Italian dressing did I realize the possibilities. This take on my dad's recipe opts for a quick homemade red wine vinaigrette that's simply enhanced with garlic.
The light vinaigrette means the salad can handle a whole slew of flavorful ingredients. The concentrated sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes contrasts fresh tomatoes' juicy bite. Bite-sized balls of creamy mozzarella add substance, while a few big handfuls of arugula bring the freshness up one more level and lend a peppery kick. I love how twirly cavatappi pasta catches these things, but other short shapes like fusilli or gemelli also work well.
This is the kind of pasta salad that's lovely as a side dish but also wonderful as a light lunch, so go ahead and enjoy it either way.