Picnic Pasta Salad

By Gina Caputo

Picnic Pasta Salad

One time I had a James Beard award-winning chef over for a summer cookout. I had made some fancy kind of truffle popcorn and worked really hard on my marinade to impress. And in the end, what he really liked was my most basic pasta salad on earth, which I’d made with the kids in mind. Jeff and I eat this one with some frequency because it’s quick, easy and deeply delicious. It’s a guaranteed hit at any summer gathering whether you’re serving or pot lucking!


  • 1 box farfalle pasta (16oz) – you can definitely use GF or protein enriched but those boxes are often less than 16oz, just FYI
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cleaned and halved vertically
  • 1 8oz tub of mozzarella balls – perline size if you can find or slice cilegine in half
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 5 big handfuls of arugula
  • 1 bunch basil, chiffonaded 
  • Balsamic vinaigrette 
  • Sea salt & pepper


  1. Prepare the pasta per package directions
  2. Meanwhile, vertically slice the tomatoes and dice the avocado then sprinkle with pinch of sea salt.
  3. Chiffonade the basil and prepare the balsamic vinaigrette.
  4. Drain the pasta when it is done and let it cool. You can do a quick rinse in cold water to speed that up before it gets stuck together. Drain completely.
  5. Place in a large festive bowl and add the tomatoes, arugula and mozzarella balls. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette and toss well. Start conservatively with your dressing, remember you can always add more but can’t take away.
  6. Once it is coated to your liking. Add the avocado and chiffonaded basil and toss gently to combine.
  7. Check your salt and pepper and adjust to your liking! You can also add toasted pine nuts if you’re feeling extra fancy!