Easy Pasta Salad with Orecchiette Mozzarella | culture: the word on cheese
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Easy Pasta Salad with Orecchiette Mozzarella

Pasta Salad with Mozzarella and Olives

This recipe uses orecchiette mozzarella, which looks likes thumb prints and resembles the pasta shape by the same name. (Fun Fact: orecchiette translates to “little ears.”) If you can’t find orecchiette mozzarella, you can cut any fresh mozzarella into 1⁄2-inch cubes. The cheese is added to warm pasta toward the end of cooking, melting to a soft and stringy consistency. Mint provides a bright note in the deconstructed pesto, resulting in a fresh summer bite.


  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 cups basil stems removed, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups mint stems removed, plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 ounces orecchiette mozzarella
  • 12 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup green olives pits removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts chopped


  • Pulse parmesan, basil, mint, garlic, red pepper, and salt in a blender to combine. Slowly add olive oil and blend.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of pesto mixture and mozzarella to a bowl. Cover and allow mixture to come to room temperature.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions.
  • Drain pasta, reserving 1⁄2 cup of pasta water.
  • Transfer cooked pasta to a serving bowl. Add the marinated mozzarella, reserved pasta water, and remaining pesto. Toss until the cheese just starts to melt.
  • Garnish with torn basil, mint leaves, olives, pine nuts, and walnuts.

Derek Bissonnette

A former chef who worked in bakeries and three Michelin-starred restaurants throughout America and Europe, Derek Bissonnette has switched gears and now documents his passion for creating food with his camera (One Cheese, Five Ways, p. 25). Derek is the author and photographer of six cookbooks and is currently working on his seventh. He combines his skills for recipe development, styling, and photography at his studio in Saco, Maine.

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