Wednesday, October 24, 2012

smoked mozzarella pasta salad

pasta salad is usually really bland. amen? but this one, with it's spicy, creamy dressing and delicious, delicious smoked mozzarella, is anything but. this is a great dish for a crowd because you can easily make a LOT of it (i first made it for my sweet friend cara's wedding shower!), but i also like to make it just for me for an extra yummy lunch.

this is similar to a pasta salad from the whole foods cookbook, but i have swapped some ingredients for flavor & texture, and have tweaked the dressing to make it lighter & healthier (read: i can justify eating it several days in a row). hope you enjoy it as much as i do!!!

here's what you'll need for the dressing:
1/4 c. grated parmesan
1/2 c. chopped italian parsley
1/3 c. greek yogurt
2 tblspn. low-fat mayo
1/4 c. white-wine vinegar
2 minced garlic cloves or 1/4 tspn. garlic powder
2 pinches cayenne - optional, of course, but don't be afraid! the creaminess of the dressing really balances out the spice
salt & pepper to taste

here's what you'll need for the salad:
1/2 lb. penne
12 basil leaves, torn
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 lb. smoked mozzarella, diced

bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook penne until al dente (very important! the worst part about most pasta salad is that the pasta is overcooked). meanwhile, mix together all of the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl.

when pasta is finished, drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is completely cooled. in a large bowl, mix together with the basil, peppers, and mozzarella. dress & toss the salad and keep refrigerated until serving! (if you make this in advance and the pasta seems a little dry, simply add a bit of yogurt or mayo to loosen it up again.)

happy eating! xx


  1. Thank you Marie. I am beginner chef and am not familiar with the term (al dente). Please explain (because apparently it's "very important!"

    Also could you please provide tips on how to cook with garlic without touching it?


    1. Hey Drew! "Al dente" is Italian for "to the bite," which just means the pasta is still a bit firm, not overcooked. If you follow the recommended cooking time on the pasta box, you should be fine. Just take a taste of the pasta before you drain it.

      On garlic -- you can definitely substitute garlic powder for cloves so that you don't have to handle it (1/8 tsp. = 1 garlic clove). If you simply want to get rid of the garlic smell from your fingers after handling it, one trick is to rub your hands on anything made of stainless steel (like a spoon or other kitchen utensil).

      Hope that all helps! Happy cooking :)

  2. Wow - yum!!

    Xo Jill

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