Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Basil and Mozzarella

The Best Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes

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Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes comes together quickly with the help of store-bought bottled Italian dressing. It’s wonderful as a chilled side dish or a vegetarian main course.

Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes -

I always gravitate towards a cold pasta salad when it’s out on a buffet table at a party or gathering. However, I honestly think it’s been several years since I’ve made one myself.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long (since I do love them so much), but all that changes as of today with this recipe for Italian Shell Pasta Salad.

Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes -

The thing I love most about this Italian Shell Pasta Salad (besides the pasta itself) is the addition of the fresh Mozzarella Fresca (fresh baby mozzarella balls), so I made sure to add plenty.

There is something so tantalizing about biting into tender, soft pillows of fresh mozzarella that are partnered with perfectly cooked pasta shells, and then smothered in big, bold Italian flavors!

**Please Note – The printable recipe card with detailed instructions and complete ingredient measurements for making Best Italian Shell Pasta Salad is available near the end of this post. 

Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes -

If you’re looking to make this recipe as more of the main course (for the carnivores in your life), feel free to play around with it.

What about adding some cooked chicken (store-bought rotisserie chicken is always a good choice), or maybe even some Italian sausage (leftovers work well for this) that have been pre-cooked and then tossed in with the pasta before chilling.

Oooh, before I forget! Cubed salami or sliced pepperoni would be great too! You be the judge. It’s your salad, done your way!

Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes -

Check out these easy to follow step-by-step photos and instructions for making Italian Shell Pasta Salad:

Cook the medium shell pasta according to the package directions, minus 2 minutes. Drain. Add the Italian dressing to the cooked and drained pasta along with diced green bell pepper, and diced red onion.

Making Italian Shell Pasta Salad

Add a touch of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Allow the pasta to cool for 20 minutes.

Cold Italian Shell Pasta Salad

Once the pasta has cooled, add grape tomatoes, and the mozzarella cheese balls. Stir well to combine. Refrigerate the salad at least 1 hour. Garnish the pasta salad with freshly chopped basil and serve cold.

Assembling Italian Shell Pasta Salad

Below is the printable recipe card for today’s Italian Shell Pasta Salad. If you enjoy this recipe and are anxious to give it a try, I’d appreciate if you’d take a moment to give this recipe some feedback by way of stars. Thank you so very much! 🙂


0 from 0 votes
Cold Italian Shell Pasta Salad
Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes
Prep Time
15 mins
Italian Shell Pasta Salad comes together quickly with the help of store-bought bottled Italian dressing. It's wonderful as a chilled side dish or vegetarian main course.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: pasta salad
Keyword: cold pasta salad, Italian Shell Pasta Salad, macaroni salad
Servings: 12
Renee - Kudos Kitchen: Renee - Kudos Kitchen
  • 1 box medium shell pasta, cooked 2 minutes less than package directions, and drained.
  • 1 cup bottled Italian dressing, I used roasted red pepper Italian, plus additional if needed.
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and small diced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and small diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 8 ounce containters mozzarella Fresca, (cherry size) drained.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Tools and utensils
  1. Add 1 cup of the Italian dressing to the hot cooked and drained pasta.
  2. Stir in the black pepper, bell pepper, red onion, and olive oil.
  3. Allow the pasta to cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and drained mozzarella to the pasta.
  5. Stir well to combine.
  6. Season with additional salt if needed.
  7. Spoon the pasta salad into a large serving bowl.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 60 minutes.
  9. Right before serving stir in the fresh basil leaves, and additional Italian dressing if needed.
  10. Serve cold.
Recipe Notes

Tools and equipment:

large pasta pot, colander, wooden spoons, cutting board, paring knife, chef's knife, measuring cups, large bowl for serving


Add in suggestions:

cooked chicken, cooked turkey, cubed salami, cooked ham, tuna fish, cooked Italian sausage, pepperoni, capers, artichokes

Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes -

Since every Italian dish is better with mozzarella Fresca (fresh mozzarella), here are a few of my very favorite finds from around the web:

Yum, right???

And since every Italian dish is better with a nice glass of wine, I thought I’d pair this recipe post with my colorful and whimsical new apron design that’s all about food…and WINE! Many people think that this quote is from Julia Child, but I believe it’s actually a quote from W.C. Fields. Either way… I find it fun, and very appropriate.

Cooking with Wine Hand Painted Apron

I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe for Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you!

Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes -

Should you have any questions regarding this recipe for Italian Shell Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomatoes, or anything else you see on my site, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly, or leave me a comment in the comment section below. It is always my distinct pleasure to get back to you with a reply just as soon as I possibly can!

For additional information regarding my Kudos Kitchen recipes, and/or my hand painted glassware or fabric items, please follow me on;


Kudos Kitchen by Renée ~ Cooking up artistically delicious family-friendly dishes from my Kudos Kitchen to yours!

Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!

Kudos Kitchen Brand Signature

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  1. I love salads like this. Perfect for summer!

  2. Wow this salad not only looks amazing but it looks refreshing!

  3. I want to bring this to every summer picnic this year!

  4. I rarely use shell pasta but it looks perfect in this salad! Love how quick and easy it is.

  5. The name of this salad sold me right away but your suggestion of adding salami – yes! I am totally in!

  6. Pasta salad is one of my favorite things! Can’t wait to try this one!

  7. This is such a perfect Summer salad for barbecues and potlucks!

  8. You made a wonderful pasta salad here and I am really looking forward to it!

  9. I love shell pasta so I’m totally in love with this recipe. It’s perfect for summer picnic or to bring to a potluck. Great photos.

  10. I’m going to go have to go ahead and agree with you that nothing beats fresh mozzarella. This pasta salad looks divine!

  11. I am also drawn to pasta salads on a buffet table… mmm and I especially like shells! I can see this tasty salad in my picnic basket! What a wonderful recipe, Renee! And the apron is adorable. I’m always wowed by your creativity!

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