The first time I ever made pasta salad, I used a packaged kit. The one with the baggie of dehydrated vegetables that look like the grit that collects under your forks and spoons in the silverware tray.

Suddenly, I understood why they were so generous with the dressing.

I wish I’d known then that in the same 10 to 15 minutes it takes to boil one of those kits, I could have thrown together Ina Garten’s Pasta with Tomatoes, Black Olives and Mozzarella.

While the pasta was boiling, I could have been at the food processor, whipping up the sun-dried tomato dressing, which gets a nice zing from the tomatoes, red wine vinegar and capers.

Instead of sitting down to shells and vegetable remnants, I could have spooned out this bowl of fusilli tossed with ripe tomatoes, black olives, diced mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes and topped with grated Parmesan and fresh basil.

I want those 15 minutes back.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Black Olives and Mozzarella

Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Family Style”

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
  • 3/4 cup black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
  2. For the Dressing: Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
  3. Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.