Easy Italian Style Pasta Salad with Arugula

Jump to RecipeLeave a Comment

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This Easy Italian Style Pasta Salad with Arugula is packed with delicious Italian flavors. The greens used are fresh arugula to give a little spice and tang and basil for sweetness. The best part- it comes together in 20 minutes!

Here is a Greek version of this pasta salad- Greek Style Pasta Salad, Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe, a delicious tortellini one- Easy Italian Tortellini Pasta Salad.

Looking for more delicious Italian summer recipes? Find ideas here: 40 BEST Italian Inspired Summer Recipes.

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Italian Style Pasta Salad

Then comes the delicious vine ripe tomatoes, a handful of mini mozzarella (bocconcini, ciliegine, or pearl), and a healthy dose of olive oil to incorporate it all!

This is a dish to make in bulk and save for lunch. It is even better than leftovers.

Simple Ingredients

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Arugula salad
  • Fresh mozzarella balls such as bocconcini, pearls, or ciliegine
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional- it is great with and without!)
  • Pasta of your choice
  • Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

How to make Easy Italian Style Pasta Salad with Arugula

  1.  In a large serving bowl toss the tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar (if using), basil, salt, and pepper. Let sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, boil 6 quarts of water and add 3 tablespoons of salt to season the pasta water. Cook pasta according to package directions for ‘al dente’ texture.
  3. While pasta is cooking add the arugula to the bowl of tomatoes and let sit until the pasta is done cooking.
  4. When pasta is done cooking, strain, and add to the bowl of prepared ingredients. Toss to coat evenly. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the mozzarella balls on top and drizzle liberally with more olive oil and a little salt and pepper. If you add the mozzarella when the pasta is too hot is will melt and not taste or look the same.
  6. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold!

Yes, it is that easy!

Serving Pasta Salad

It’s pasta salad season! Time for outdoor BBQs, late summer nights, wedding showers, etc. and a delicious Italian pasta salad is the perfect side to bring this time of year.

It’s also nice that is vegetarian to please all the non-meat eaters in the crowd. Trust me, you won’t miss the meat if you decide to make it your main meal.

Make a double batch of this Italian-style pasta salad and leave it in the fridge for the family to grab as lunch on a busy day.

Make my Softest No-Knead Bread or Easy No-Knead Focaccia Bread Recipe to go with this meal.

pasta salad with arugula, tomatoes, mozarella in a bowl

What Does Arugula Taste Like?


Fresh arugula leaves have a distinctive spicy kick that will turn up the flavors in your salads, pastas, sandwiches, and sauces.
The flavor can be bright, tart, peppery, and slightly bitter, depending on its maturity. If you are worried it won’t be a hit SWAP FOR SPINACH.

Before you do so, I encourage you to try the dish with arugula!

What Kind of Mozzarella Should I Use

For the BEST and most FRESH results, you should use mozzarella that is in water or “fresh” (NOT “low moisture mozzarella that is prepackaged and dry).

Fresh mozzarella cheese has a soft, moist texture and is full of milky flavor. Similar to other fresh cheeses, mozzarella Fresca is high in water content and therefore low in fat. It is soft and melts in your mouth creamy!

Fresh mozzarella is silky, soft, milky, and mild in flavor. It should be eaten at room temperature to fully enjoy its subtle and fresh flavor.

 Fresh mozzarella is easily found in almost any supermarket.

Here are the smaller varieties I recommend. If for some reason you can’t find them use a big fresh mozzarella and cut it into cubes.

  • Pearls (as seen in these pictures and the smallest)
  • Bocconcini (in Italian means small mouthful)
  • Ciliegine (in Italian means little cherries)
Italian pasta salad recipe in a serving dish

Tips for Cooking Pasta for Cold Pasta Salad

Short pasta is best for pasta salad. If you aren’t using tortellini- pick one pound of small pasta of your choice. Feel free to mix it up and try new shapes and sizes. 

Cook the pasta in one gallon of boiling water seasoned with 2 tablespoons of salt until a little past al-dente.

Read this article for a complete guide on how to cook pasta perfectly and this one for storing your pasta salad properly. Since we aren’t adding pasta to a hot sauce to finish cooking we don’t want it too al dente.

So, cook it a minute or two longer than you would if you were making hot pasta. 

It is also important not to overcook the pasta or it will turn mushy after marinating with the dressing for too long. Drain, but do not rinse the pasta.

Variations

If you want to get really fancy here are some ideas to add to this simple and delicious pasta salad recipe. NOTE: if you add more ingredients I recommend adding more of the salad dressing.

Fresh Veggies (add about 1 cup for each veggie and pick up to 2):

  • Canned artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered
  • Canned beans, drained and rinsed
  • Celery, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Cucumbers quartered lengthwise, cut into bite-size pieces, and lightly salted
  • Fennel, trimmed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • Avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into bite-size pieces (add at last minute to prevent darkening)
  • Zucchini, halved lengthwise if small, quartered lengthwise if large, then thinly sliced
  • Bell peppers, cored and cut into bite-size strips or cubes (green bell peppers, red bell peppers, or other varieties)
  • Tomatoes, seeded and cut into medium dice and lightly salted
  • Frozen green peas, thawed

Protein and Cheese (add about 1 cup for each protein and pick up to 2):

  • Chicken breasts, grilled, sautéed, or steamed, and cut crosswise into thin bite-size strips
  • Italian sausage, sautéed and sliced thin on a slight bias
  • Tofu
  • Cooked lobster
  • Cooked and peeled shrimp
  • Canned tuna, drained
  • Mild cheeses (e.g., mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack), cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Ham or salami, sliced ¼-inch thick and cut into bite-size strips

Unique Flavors

These flavors add a unique twist to your pasta salad dish. (add about ½ cup) 

  • Spicy Salami, sliced and quartered
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Parmesan shaved 
  • Goat cheese, crumbled
  • Capers, drained (¼ cup)
  • Olives pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Kalamata olives pitted and coarsely chopped  
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Pepperoncini drained and thinly sliced
  • Roasted red peppers, cut into strips
  • Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into small dice
  • Bacon, fried and crumbled (8 ounces)
  • Prosciutto (8 ounces), thinly sliced, cut into small-medium dice
  • Smoked salmon (8 ounces), thinly sliced, cut into small-medium  dice
  • Pine nuts, raw or toasted

Add-ons and Spices

Hints of fresh herbs and citrus zest help brighten the pasta salad recipe and make it unique. Add about 3 tablespoons of herbs, and 2 tablespoons of zest.

  • Parsley 
  • Italian seasoning
  • Garlic, finely diced
  • Shallots, finely chopped
  • Lemon, or orange zest

From My Cucina (Kitchen) to Your Table. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

Made with Amore, Elena

More Delicious Recipes for YOU

Salsa Fresca (fresh tomato sauce)

Arugula, Apple, and Pistachio Salad in Parmigiano Cups

Orecchiette with Sausage, Peppers, and Arugula (video)

Roasted Peppers in oil with Garlic with Pasta

Peach and Mozzarella Salad with Orange, Basil, and Poppy Seed Dressing

Baked Zucchini with Bruschetta Topping

Panzanella Salad Recipe

Want to try a new type of pasta shape and variety? See my SUGGESTIONS

Italian pasta salad recipe in a serving bowl

💙 MADE THIS RECIPE AND LOVED IT? 💙 Please leave a ⭐️STAR rating and COMMENT below- I love connecting with you! Tag me with your creations on Instagram and find me on Pinterest.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Arugula Pasta Salad (Italian)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

Let’s Make a New kind of Pasta Salad! This one is packed with Italian flavors. The greens used are fresh arugula to give a little spice and tang and basil for sweetness. Then comes the delicious vine ripe tomatoes, a handful of mini mozzarella (bocconcini or pearl), and a healthy dose of olive oil to incorporate it all! This is a dish to make in bulk and save for lunch. 

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 pint (275 g/ 10oz) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cups (150 g/ 5oz) pre-washed arugula salad
  • 12 oz (340 g) fresh mozzarella balls such as bocconcini, pearls, or ciliegine
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil, such as COLAVITA
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 lb (454 g) short pasta of your choice
  • 6 basil leaves torn by hand
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1.  In a large serving bowl toss the tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar (if using), basil, salt and pepper. Let sit on counter for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, boil 6 quarts water and add 3 tablespoons of salt to season the pasta water. Cook pasta according to package directions for ‘al dente’ texture.
  3. While pasta is cooking add the arugula to the bowl of tomatoes and let sit until the pasta is done cooking.
  4. When pasta is done cooking, strain, and add to the bowl of prepared ingredients. Toss to coat evenly. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the mozzarella balls on top and drizzle liberally with more olive oil and a little salt and pepper. If you add the mozzarella when the pasta is too hot is will melt and not taste or look the same.
  6. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold!

Notes

You can easily DOUBLE this recipe! You can press the 2X icon on the recipe and it will update the information for you!

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

You May Also Like

About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

2 Comments