This warm pasta salad is made for lazy evenings. Assemble the vegetables and cheese in the morning, add just-boiled pasta, and dinner is served.
What makes this warm pasta dish so great
I made the easiest, laziest and tastiest warm pasta salad ever. No oven required, and you barely have to plan ahead.
The only heat involved is enough to boil pasta. The rest pretty much takes care of itself. You assemble the cheese, tomatoes, diced red onion, sugar snap pea and basil mixture ahead of time.
When it's dinner time, you boil the pasta, drain it, and toss it right on top. Give it a quick stir, and dinner is served. If you're looking for more of a side dish, try our classic gluten free pasta salad recipe.
Make it even further ahead of time
This makes the quickest meal ever if you prepare the tomato-basil mixture ahead of time, and boil the pasta water ahead of time. Once the water has boiled, turn off the heat and allow it to sit, covered, until you are ready to use it.
The water in the pot will retain quite a bit of heat. When are you ready to serve dinner, just turn on the flame again under the pot.
You'll be amazed how much heat was retained by the water in the pot, and how quickly it returns to a boil. Dinner in a flash.
Ingredients and substitutions
The cubed semi-hard cheese in this pasta salad kind of makes the dish, but if you're dairy free you can of course still make it. You can either leave out the cheese entirely, or use Violife brand nondairy cheese, which comes in blocks that can be cubed.
If you use a nondairy cheese like Violife, it won't melt in the same way when you add the warm pasta. But it will still have that cheesy flavor and a similar texture.
Since you're not cooking the onions here, you need an onion that is mild flavored even when mostly raw. The acid in the tomatoes does break down the onions a bit as the vegetables marinate, though.
I've used both red onions and scallions in this dish. I actually like them both equally. If you can't have onions, but you can have garlic, try adding finely minced garlic instead.
Warm Pasta Salad | with gf pasta
1 pound tomatoes (about 8 plum tomatoes, 3 large globe tomatoes, or grape tomatoes sliced in half)
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
8 ounces sugar snap peas, cleaned and chopped into large pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound semi-firm to firm cheese, like havarti or asiago, cubed
1 pound dried corkscrew or elbow gluten free pasta
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil, peas, olive oil, and cheese. Stir gently until combined, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, up to 6 hours (or as long as you feel comfortable leaving hard cheese at room temperature).
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta, and pour the hot pasta over the tomato and cheese mixture, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Make ahead option: Prepare the tomato-basil mixture ahead of time, and boil the pasta water ahead of time. Once the water has boiled, turn off the heat and allow it to sit, covered, until you are ready to use it. When are you ready to serve dinner, just turn on the flame again under the pot, and you’ll be amazed how much heat was retained by the water in the pot, and how quickly it returns to a boil. Dinner in a flash.
Originally published on the blog in 2011 (!). Recipe unchanged, photos and some text new.