During warm weather, salads like this Mediterranean Penne Pasta Salad are a tasty choice that you can enjoy as a side dish or an entrée. Serve it as a light lunch, as a side dish at your next backyard barbecue or as a main dish meal at the end of a busy day. It's bright, fresh and packed with flavor.
Mediterranean Penne Pasta Salad
This pasta salad features cubes of mozzarella cheese, ham, red onion, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and crisp steamed asparagus, tossed with a robust Italian dressing. For this Mediterranean inspired delight there's no mayonnaise but rather, the tangy bright flavors of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Italian seasonings instead. Easy dishes like this pasta salad can be personalized to suit your taste.
Helpful Tips for Making Penne Pasta Salad
While I adore mayonnaise, it's nice to depart from the norm sometimes and enjoy the fresh flavors of an oil and vinegar based dressing, instead.
- The rainbow of ingredients in this salad actually become more robust when made the night before allowing the flavors to marry.
- Place it into a pretty serving dish and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and ribbons of fresh basil just before serving.
- If you prefer to make your own Italian dressing take a peek at this homemade Italian dressing recipe from Family Food on the Table. Keep in mind, the point of this salad is to keep things easy hence the reason I developed it using a quality prepared salad dressing. Either way, it's delicious.
More Salads to Add to the Menu
If you're a fan of pasta salads in any way shape or form, you may also like try my recipes for:
- Italian Penne Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- BLT Penne Pasta Layered Salad
- Or, this recipe for Taco Pasta Salad from Wine and Glue
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Mediterranean Penne Pasta Salad
- ½ lb penne pasta
- ½ lb steamed asparagus
- 1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup cubed smoked ham
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes halved
- ⅓ cup purple onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup whole Kalamata Olives
- 1 ½ cup prepared Italian salad dressing i.e. Marzetti's Plus additional as needed
- 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoon chiffonade fresh basil
- Cook the penne pasta in salted water per the instructions on the box, until al dente. Drain well then add to a medium-size mixing bowl.
- Remove the tough portion of the asparagus stem then steam until crisp tender. Slice into 1- inch pieces.
- Add the sliced asparagus, mozzerella cheese, ham, cherry tomatoes, onion, olives. dressing, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes to the cooked pasta. Mix until the ingredients are well coated. Taste and add salt and black pepper to your taste. (The amount can vary depending on the dressing used)
- Place the bowl into the refrigerator and allow to chill covered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, stir well and adjust the amount of dressing, salt and black pepper, to your taste.
- Pour into a serving bowl. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and basil ribbons just before serving.
This is the sort of recipe I could see turning out differently with an array of ingredients every time you make it.
So true Eli! I love using Spring asparagus, but also love using steamed broccoli or green beans. Being a fan of my local Farmers market, I sometimes shake-up the ingredients depending on what's in season. I always say recipes are like road maps and detours are optional.
Oh, my goodness... drools on keyboard.
This look SO yummy! My favorite kinds of recipes are easy to make and light. I'd eliminate the ham, but I don't think it would be a dealbreaker for this kind of recipe because it has all of my other favorite foods 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!
Hi Charlotte! The ham could be left out and it would still be tasty with no other adjustments necessary. I agree love all the veggies in this one glad you do, too.