Header shot of a platter of pasta salad with cantaloupe, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olives.

Balsamic, Cantaloupe + Mozzarella Pasta Salad

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Pasta salad is a dicey affair. I love the idea of it. A cold pasta dish tossed with a zesty dressing and veggies? Yum! But very often it’s just… not great. That’s why I set out to create a version that excited me! The key players here are balsamic vinaigrette, cantaloupe, and mozzarella (hence the title). But that’s really just the start. It’s also packed with sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes, buttery frescatrano olives, basil, spicy calabrian chilis, toasted pine nuts, shallots, and pasta (duh). It comes together in a really lovely way. And there’s not so much dressing that the pasta becomes mushy, which is a pasta salad pet peeve of mine. The cherry on top is that it’s quite easy to throw together! You’ll definitely want to save this one for your next picnic or pot luck.

What type of pasta is best for this?

I personally love farfalle (bowtie) for pasta salad. There’s just something so whimsical and fun about it. It feels perfect for an outdoor spring or summer outing! That said, any short pasta will do here. Fusilli in particular would be excellent. The twisty bits are great for catching dressing. So anyway, this recipe will call for farfalle, but the short pasta of your choice will do just fine.

Where can I find frescatrano olives?

I bought my frescatrano olives from Whole Foods. I picked them because they’re delicious. Very sweet and buttery. They’re also quite large, and come pitted, which makes life so much easier for a dish like this. If you can’t find frescatranos, however, get castelvetranos. They’re really similar in flavor and texture – just a bit smaller. I often see them in the jarred olive section at the grocery store, so they should be relatively easy to find.

Let’s talk about servings.

This pasta salad will serve about 6 as a light meal. It’s harder to say how many servings you’ll get out of it as a side. Especially if you’re putting it out at a picnic or a party. Some people take a lot, while others take very little. I feel safe saying it’ll serve 8-10 as a side, though!

Also, hot tip: if you’re planning on eating this as an entrée, try making it with protein pasta! I’m a big fan of Barilla’s protein pasta. I think it tastes just like most regular store bought pastas, and I know they at least make a penne version of it.


Balsamic, Cantaloupe + Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Course Appetizer, entree, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword Balsamic, Cantaloupe + Mozzarella Pasta Salad, cantaloupe, mozzarella, pasta, pasta salad, picnic food, pot luck recipe
Servings 6 people


Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 6 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 clove Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper

Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb Farfalle pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups Cantaloupe (Roughly chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Jarred calabrian chiles (Finely chopped)
  • 8 oz Fresh mozzarella pearls (One container – drained)
  • 1/4 cup Fresh basil (Chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Pine nuts
  • 1 cup Cherry tomatoes (Halved)
  • 1 Shallot (Finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Frescatrano olives (Pitted and quartered)
  • Salt (To taste)
  • Black pepper (To taste)


  • Make the balsamic vinaigrette. To do this, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper to a jar (or another airtight container). Close the lid and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside for later.
  • Toast your pine nuts. To do this, add them to a small frying pan and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally. You'll know they're done when they smell nutty, look a little bit sweaty, and have slightly browned. This will only take a few minutes and they burn easily, so keep an eye on them.
  • Now make the pasta per the instructions on the box. You'll want to cook it until it's al dente (for me, that was about 11 minutes). If you haven't already, chop the other ingredients while the pasta cooks.
  • Once the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to a bowl. Pour all the balsamic vinaigrette over the pasta, and toss to coat. Then add the cantaloupe, calabrian chilis, mozzarella pearls, basil, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and olives to the bowl and toss once more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then toss once more. Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later!

And that’s it! If you make this quick and easy pasta salad, I really hope you love it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Instagram. And don’t forget to share a picture! It absolutely makes my day when I get to see your creations.

Looking for more picnic worthy recipes? Try my watermelon and burrata salad with chili crisp or my chopped kale salad with apricots and garlic vinaigrette.

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