A cold Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad is a perfect spring or summer light meal or side dish to bring to a backyard BBQ or potluck. The recipe serves four but can be doubled to make a larger batch. I use a ton of garlic, I LOVE garlic. The grated Parmesan or Romano cheese finishes off this cold pasta salad nicely.
- The tomatoes are the star so they must be perfectly ripe. Grape tomatoes are my go-to, but you can use cherry tomatoes. Try the multi-color tomatoes for a nice presentation.
- The basil is the co-star here and for the best flavor, fresh basil leaves should be used. I don't recommend substituting.
- Use fresh Garlic, the tube or jarred always seems to have an artificial taste when used in a raw salad, so opt for fresh.
- The balsamic vinegar should be the best you have in your pantry. On a cold salad like this, the flavor really comes through.
- Use the best extra virgin olive oil you have on hand. I keep two types in my pantry, one for cooking and one for salads and dipping.
- Sugar adds a touch of sweetness.
- Red pepper flakes give the salad a little kick
- Dried penne rigate (one with the groves on it) is the traditional pasta to use, however, you can also use Spaghetti or a Linguini. Leftover pasta is great for this recipe.
- Parmesan or Romano cheese or you can cut up some Mozarella.
- An optional item is to add diced olives.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine everything but the basil leaves and penne. Set aside 30 minutes so the tomatoes have time to marinate. The longer the tomatoes marinate the deeper the flavor.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until Al dente. Al dente pasta is is chewy and firm. Drain (don't rinse) and add the cooked Penne to the tomato mixture.
- Add the fresh basil.
- Toss the Penne until well mixed.
- Top with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
- Serve at room temperature.
Tomato and Basil pasta salad is the perfect make-ahead recipe for BBQs and potlucks.
- Store covered in the refrigerator.
- Don't top with the cheese until ready to serve.
- Before serving toss with a little extra olive oil.
Now that's easy and it tastes even better the next day!
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