How to Make Penne Pasta Salad - Quick and Easy

You can add almost anything to this basic pasta salad recipe.
You can add almost anything to this basic pasta salad recipe. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A simple penne pasta salad is great to serve cold at a picnic, potluck or cookout. It is quick and easy to make, and even the pickiest eaters usually enjoy it. The different textures and flavors come together to make an attractive and satisfying dish. Change up the vegetables, if you like, to suit your tastes or what you have in the kitchen. Add chopped onions and cucumber, broccoli, black olives or even artichoke hearts. If you don't have a garden, consider growing grape tomatoes and fresh basil in pots to make your salad garden-fresh all summer long.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 pound block mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, optional
  • 16 ounces Italian dressing

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, cut the mozzarella cheese into small cubes. Wash the tomatoes and set aside.

Drain the pasta when it is finished cooking. Rinse the noodles with cold water and put the pasta in a large bowl.

Add the cheese and clean, torn basil to the penne pasta. Toss with about three-quarters of the Italian dressing.

Place the tomatoes on top and refrigerate for an hour or two.

Add the rest of the Italian dressing and toss just before serving.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pasta salads tend to dry out the longer they are refrigerated. Keep leftovers tightly covered and drizzle with a little more dressing or some oil if the salad seems dry.
  • If you don't have grape tomatoes, cut cherry tomatoes in half and use.
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