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This cold bruschetta pasta salad is such a delicious vegetarian dish! Made with juicy cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, fresh basil, and mini mozzarella balls (or mini bocconcini), plus with optional homemade sourdough breadcrumbs for the perfect crunch and bruschetta-inspired flavour! This pasta salad comes together in just over 30 minutes and is seriously SO delicious — make it for a dinner party, barbecue, or packed lunch.

Bruschetta pasta salad in a large salad bowl.

Pasta salads are always a reader favourite on this website, such as this lemon orzo pasta salad, this roasted vegetable pasta salad, or this kale pasta salad with sundried tomatoes.

As a dietitian, I love finding delicious new pasta salad flavour combinations that pack in a ton of nutrition benefits at the same time. This tomato bruschetta pasta salad is a winner in both regards!!

What is bruschetta?

Bruschetta is a popular Italian starter dish made from grilled bread with garlic and olive oil. It can be topped with many things, but you may be most familiar with tomatoes as a topping.

With that in mind, this pasta salad is **inspired** by tomato bruschetta. It’s made with ingredients like cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil.

To recreate the texture and flavour of bread, I’ve also added some homemade sourdough bread crumbs. They REALLY bring this dish together!

Love this tomato bruschetta pasta salad? You may enjoy this panzanella-inspired tomato bread salad, too! It has a similar flavour profile, but is made with homemade croutons and without pasta and cheese. Both salads are some of my favourite summer dishes 🙂

Bruschetta pasta salad in a large salad bowl.

Ingredients needed & possible modifications

  1. Pasta: You can use any SMALL pasta shape that you enjoy for this recipe – from bowties (as pictured), to cavatappi, penne, or rigatoni. If you follow a gluten-free diet, please choose a certified gluten-free pasta.
  2. Cherry tomatoes: I used vine-ripened cherry tomatoes in 2 different colours. Multiple colours makes this salad more pretty, but is not necessary from a taste standpoint. That said, choosing vine-ripened (or tomatoes still on the vine) ensures that your tomatoes are sweet and juicy! If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, feel free to use another small tomato variety, such as grape tomatoes.
  3. Bocconcini cheese: Bocconcini are small mozzarella cheese balls. I used mini or cocktail-sized bocconcini cheese for this recipe and cut each ball in half. Bocconcini works great in pasta salads, thanks to their bite-sized shape. If you’d prefer, I think this salad would also taste fabulous with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano! For a dairy-free version, you may omit the cheese unless you can find a suitable dairy-free alternative.
  4. Shallot: Diced shallots add a beautiful onion-like flavour, but with a slightly sweeter and milder taste (i.e. less of that onion “bite”). I find they pair SO well with tomatoes.
  5. Garlic: Freshly minced garlic helps to give that true “bruschetta”-like flavour.
  6. Basil: Fresh basil pairs beautifully with tomatoes, bread, and pasta. Plus, it adds a punch of pretty greens!
  7. Red wine vinegar: Used as part of the pasta salad dressing. It’s tangy taste complements all the flavours so well.
  8. Olive oil: Also used as part of the dressing, and to toast the homemade breadcrumbs!
  9. Sourdough bread: I used sourdough bread to create the breadcrumbs in this recipe, to emulate the flavous and textures of tomato bruschetta. That said, you can use any type of bread you have, fresh or frozen (this is a great way to use up any end bits!!) If you’re gluten-free, please use a certified gluten-free bread OR omit entirely.
  10. Garlic powder: Added to the breadcrumbs while you toast them in the pan. If you don’t have any on hand it’s ok – it adds more flavour, but it’s not the end of the world if you omit it!

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Recipe ingredients in small bowls.

What to serve this recipe with

This is an excellent recipe to bring to a barbecue or dinner party, particularly if you’re dining al fresco 😉

Alternatively, it’s great for a delicious dinner at home or even as a packed lunch.

For additional protein, you may enjoy it as a side dish to some grilled chicken or baked salmon.

Nutrition benefits of tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C and other phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, like lycopene and beta-carotene.

These antioxidants help to reduce risk of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. They also have other beneficial effects, such as promoting skin health.

In addition, tomatoes are a good source of:

  • dietary fibre (important for gut health)
  • potassium (important for blood pressure control)
  • folate (important for normal tissue growth + cell function)
  • vitamin K (important for blood clotting + bone health)

Tomatoes are also 95% water, making them super hydrating when the weather gets hot!

Pasta salad ingredients in a large bowl, before mixing.
Bruschetta pasta salad in a large salad bowl.

More healthy pasta salad recipes:

Did you give this Bruschetta Pasta Salad Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: Bruschetta Pasta Salad With Mini Mozzarella Balls

This cold bruschetta pasta salad is such a delicious vegetarian dish! Made with juicy cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, fresh basil, and mini mozzarella balls (or mini bocconcini), plus with optional homemade sourdough breadcrumbs for the perfect crunch and bruschetta-inspired flavour! This pasta salad comes together in just over 30 minutes and is seriously SO delicious — make it for a dinner party, barbecue, or packed lunch.
Bruschetta pasta salad in a large salad bowl.
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5 from 7 votes
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups small pasta shape, dry
  • Approx. 24 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved (roughly 680 grams or 5 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a small shallot, chopped
  • Approx. 6 ounces mini bocconcini (mozzarella balls), halved (roughly 180 grams)
  • Approx. 1 ounce fresh basil leaves, chopped (28 grams or one standard package)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Breadcrumbs (optional, but highly recommended!):

Instructions

  • Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta once cooked.
  • Prep salad: While pasta cooks, prepare the remainder of the salad ingredients. Add tomatoes, garlic, shallot, bocconcini, olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, and salt + pepper to a large salad bowl. Toss and let the ingredients sit.
  • Make breadcrumbs: Toast bread of choice in the toaster. Then, tear bread into smaller pieces and place in a large food processor. Pulse until small crumbs form (you can keep various sizes to add texture).
    Next, heat 1.5 tsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add breadcrumbs and garlic powder. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, until toasted/crunchy, stirring frequently.
  • Add drained pasta and breadcrumbs to the rest of the salad ingredients. Toss to combine, seasoning with additional salt + pepper as needed. Enjoy!

Notes

*LEFTOVERS + MAKE AHEAD:
  • This pasta salad tastes great made in advance! The breadcrumbs will get soggy, but that may be a taste that you actually enjoy. If you’d prefer to keep them crunchy, store the breadcrumbs separately (at room temperature) and add just before serving!
  • Leftovers will keep for about 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
 
*RECIPE MODIFICATIONS + TIPS:
  • You can use any SMALL pasta shape that you enjoy for this recipe – from bowties (as pictured), to cavatappi, penne, or rigatoni. If you follow a gluten-free diet, please choose a certified gluten-free pasta.
  • Choosing vine-ripened or tomatoes still on the vine ensures that your tomatoes are sweet and juicy! If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, feel free to use another small tomato variety, such as grape tomatoes.
  • If you’d prefer, you can swap the bocconcini with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. I think either would taste great. For a dairy-free version, you may omit the cheese unless you can find a suitable dairy-free alternative.
  • While I love using sourdough, you can use any type of bread you have, fresh or frozen (this is a great way to use up any end bits!!) If you’re gluten-free, please use a certified gluten-free bread OR omit the bread entirely.
  • If you don’t have a food processor to make breadcrumbs, you can simply chop up the toasted bread using a knife. It’s ok if it’s not a perfect “crumb” – different sizes and textures work great here 🙂

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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