Easy Cold Pasta Salad w/Fresh Mozzarella, Zucchini, & Fennel

There are few things Moses loves more than pasta. I think chocolate, beer, kalua pig, sushi, and bourbon may rank higher but honestly, I'm not sure. If I ask him what he wants for dinner, the answer's almost always the same, "Hmmm, I don't know. Maybe something with pasta?" I kid you not. Nine times outta ten, it's pasta. And so, on the days when I had clearly forgotten that the answer's always pasta, I'd ask Moses what he wanted for dinner. And then I'd rack my brain to try to create a new, interesting pasta dish. Which, of course, meant building a grocery list and yes, going to the market to pick everything up. Now, please don't mistake this as me complaining, because I'm not. I love creating, dreaming up a new way to put a smile on Moses' face, and of course, roaming the aisles of Whole Foods. However, some days, I just want to make something damn good, quick. And when it's 94°F out but feels like it's 110°F, I really don't want to stand in front of the stove any longer than I have to. Thank goodness for this magically, easy, cold pasta salad!

It's fast and quick and so, so, SO good. I'm talking this, real-talk, is my favorite dish of the challenge so far. And no, it's not fancy, and yes, it's insanely simple, and guess what? That's good! Simple is good. And cold pasta on a hot night is REALLY GOOD. I think sometimes we, or I, get caught up trying to outdo ourselves, myself, and things get complicated really fast. The best thing I'm taking away from this challenge is a renewed understanding that yes, simple is good. If it tastes good, and you're happy with it, you've done a great job and made an awesome meal. No frills can be surprisingly thrilling. I'd recommend using the recipe below as a guide. Tabasco + evoo = a really good dressing for any cold pasta salad. Think: ZING! While there's a little heat from the Tabasco, there isn't a ton. So if you're a heat (spicy heat) freak, add more! Don't have fresh mozzarella, zucchini, or fennel on hand? Make substitutions. Add more! Add some protein! Make this your own. This dish is yours. And it's awesome for dinner, lunch the following day, and especially delicious for a late, LATE night snack. :D

This is Part 4 of Tabasco's 10 Ingredient Challenge – 5 recipes made from any of these 10 ingredients: Tabasco (Original Red, Green Jalapeño, or Chipotle), Chicken, Eggs, Mozzarella, Fennel, Zucchini, Rice (Brown, Basmati, Jasmine, or Wild), Rigatoni, Ciabatta, Honey, (Bonus Ingredients: Salt, Pepper, and Oil).

Easy Cold Pasta Salad w/Fresh Mozzarella, Zucchini, & Fennel 

Serves 8 to 10, depending on portion size, recipe can easily be halved


  • 1 (16 oz.) package dried rigatoni noodles
  • Salt
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp. Tabasco, Original Red
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly shredded/sliced
  • 1/4 c. fennel fronds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/4" cubes
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes


  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large pot
  • Mixing bowls


  1. In a large pot, cook pasta according to instructions on package until al dente. Drain into a large colander and rinse pasta with cold water.
  2. Transfer cooled, drained pasta to a large bowl and toss with olive oil and Tabasco. Generously season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  4. Cover and chill for at least two hours before serving.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Many thanks to Tabasco for sponsoring this post. All opinions, ideas, and renewed excitement for all things simple are my own. Hope you guys are following along with the #Tabasco10 on social media! Ps - Tomorrow's the last day of the challenge! :D