Hello there, you gorgeous, meal-prep pizza manifestation of my dreams. Pizza Pasta Salad is here to make you and your lunch box VERY happy!
You all know that my love for pizza runs strong and deep. If I could only eat one other (savory) food every day for the rest of my life, it would certainly be pizza. It’s basically all of the food groups in a single dish. I never tire of it. And now, I’ve got a lunchbox friendly, picnic worthy, meal prep friendly, and tastebud favorite coming at you – PIZZA PASTA SALAD. I’ve made this twice in the month of May – double batches, mind you – for lunches and Ryan and I are living for it. Basically when this is on the lunch menu, lunchtime cannot come fast enough for us!
Let me give you all of the delicious details…
Pizza Pasta Salad Ingredients
- PASTA – for this pasta salad, I’m using the super yummy, filling, and satisfying Banza chickpea pasta. They were kind enough to send me a sample as part of their RD amabassador program. This pasta is made with chickpea flour and pea protein, which means it’s high in fiber, high in protein, and perfect for our gluten-free friends. And you know what else? It tastes amazing! I love it so much. It has a nice al dente texture and is really comparable to pasta made with traditional semolina flour. You should try it!
- CHEESES – I like to use a combination of part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into tiny cubes, and some shaved Parmesan. This is a great balance of salty + creamy for me, and I love the difference in shapes!
- PIZZA TOPPINGS – this is pizza pasta salad, so feel free to use your personal favorite pizza toppings! I’m a pepperoni gal through and through, so I’m using turkey pepperoni as a lower calorie/lower fat alternative. Ryan loves green olives, so that’s what I used! Also, fresh tomatoes and basil because SUMMER. Are we all on board yet?!?
- ITALIAN VINAIGRETTE – simple. Just some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and pinch of sugar to balance it all. Shake and pour. That’s it!
How to Make Pizza Pasta Salad
- Cook your pasta – you will want to cook your pasta according to the package directions of the type that you choose. For Banza pasta, I find the texture is best on the lower end of the cooking time – about 6 minutes. Be careful not to overcook your pasta. Since it is marinated in dressing and stored for a few days, it will tenderize a bit over time. So lean towards a more “toothy” or al dente/firmer texture. You will want to rinse the pasta under cold water and drain after boiling to stop the cooking process and cool the pasta before adding other ingredients.
- Prep your mix-ins – this is a great thing to do while the pasta is cooking. Slice, dice, and shred as needed. I use well-drained whole, pimento-stuffed green olives. Then I slice my pepperonis and grape tomatoes in half. The mozzarella is diced into 1/4” cubes, and the Parmesan is shaved coarsely.
- Dress with vinaigrette – lightly toss the pasta and toppings in the vinaigrette BEFORE storage. The flavors will develop over time, and the pasta salad will taste even better on day 3 and 4! If you plan to add fresh basil, keep this aside and add right before serving, as the basil may turn black during refrigeration.
- Package in meal prep containers – I like to pre-portion the pasta salad in to-go or meal prep containers so it’s easy to grab on the way out the door in the morning.
- Enjoy through the week – as I mentioned, as yummy as this tastes on day 1, it tastes even better on day 3 and 4 as the flavors meld together and the pasta marinates. So it is perfect for making a big batch to enjoy through the work week.
Recipe Modifications and Serving Suggestions
- GLUTEN FREE – as written, this recipe is gluten free. Just make sure products are certified gluten free (such as pepperoni) by looking for that indication on the label.
- VEGETARIAN/VEGAN – make it vegetarian by omitting the turkey pepperoni. Make it vegan by omitting the turkey pepperoni and cheese, substituting with a vegan or cashew cheese.
- I love to serve this by itself with a piece of fruit for a complete meal! Sometimes I serve it on a bed of mixed greens for extra color and nutrition. It would also be yummy as a cookout side with burgers and hot dogs.
- A good way to gauge the perfect serving size for you is by the size of your own fist. Or about 1/2 of a standard dinner plate.
Are you ready to try this Pizza Pasta Salad? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes! I’d also love to feature your creation in my monthly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured!
Pizza Pasta Salad
For the pasta salad:
- 8 ounces (1 box) Banza rotini pasta, cooked for 6 minutes and drained, then rinsed with cold water to cool completely
- 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼’’ cubes
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese shavings
- 1 cup turkey pepperoni, sliced in half
- ¾ cup pitted green olives
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup of fresh basil, finely chopped
For the vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Cook the pasta according to package directions (I cooked mine for 6 minutes), then drain in a colander. Rinse the pasta with cool water until it is completely cool.
- In a mason jar, combine the vinegar, oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
- In a large bowl, add the mozzarella, Parmesan, pepperoni, olives, tomatoes, and basil. Pour the vinaigrette on top and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Pasta salad will keep in the fridge up to 5 days. I recommend adding fresh basil as needed for each serving, as it may darken in the fridge.
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