Smoked Mozzarella and Penne Spinach Salad

What To ServeThis simple spinach and pasta salad makes for a quick and tasty weeknight dinner. I served this as a meatless meal with these buttery crescent rolls alongside, but you could easily add grilled chicken to the salad to make a more complete, hearty meal.

A tangy, fresh, light dressing compliments the tender spinach and pasta and the addition of sweet roasted red bell peppers and smoked mozzarella cheese transitions this from an ordinary salad to a unique and delicious salad.

Perfect for the warmer temps we’ve been having (albeit temporarily before snow fell again), this healthful and quick meal really hit the spot. If you can’t find the smoked mozz (this is where I count my blessings I live in the cheese capital of the universe), my personal feeling is you easily could sub in another kind of cheese…I’m thinking feta, regular mozz, fontina…whatever floats your cheese-lovin’ boat!

P.S. I’ve updated one of my all-time favorite {easy!} cakes with a new picture and details. Trust me, your life won’t be the same after introducing this cake to it.

Smoked Mozzarella and Penne Spinach Salad

Smoked Mozzarella and Penne Spinach Salad

Yield: Serves 6-8

Smoked Mozzarella and Penne Spinach Salad

Note: This salad would be delicious with grilled chicken pieces tossed in or served alongside. Also, the salad can be made up to two days in advance. Store the dressing in a container, the pasta base in a container and add the spinach and dressing to the pasta right before serving. If you can’t find smoked mozzarella, many other cheeses could be subbed – regular mozz, fontina, feta – the options could be endless with this salad!


    Parmesan Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white whine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad:
  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach
  • 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 4-6 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, diced


  1. For the dressing, combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, mayo, vinegar, garlic, cayenne and salt and pepper in a blender and process until the dressing is smooth. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The dressing can be made up to two days ahead of time.
  2. To prepare the salad, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until just tender, al dente. Drain the pasta into a colander and run cold water over it and drain well. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach, roasted red peppers and smoked mozzarella. At this point, the salad and dressing can be refrigerated for a couple of hours separately before serving.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing right before serving.

Recipe Source: adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

22 Responses to Smoked Mozzarella and Penne Spinach Salad

  1. Debi says:

    I liked this recipe as is, although a little on the bland side (for my tastes). The next time I made it I jazzed it up a bit with some grilled chicken, sun dried tomatoes and crispy bacon! I kept the red peppers in there too!

    I liked combination of the smoked cheese with the tomatoes and chicken. All the textures worked so well together. That made more than a complete meal!

    Thanks Mel! I’ll be putting this on one my site too!

  2. Jacque says:

    This looks and sounds delicious. Going to a gathering on Sunday and everyone is always wanting my “salads” and I run out recipes to try. Am going to bring this one and hope they love it.

  3. Erika says:

    Awesome! Loved it! I made it excluding the parsley (coz I don’t like it) & threw in some basil & dill from the garden instead (just a little). Then I added the hot pasta to the bowl of spinach to wilt it some. I think the smoked mozzarella made it…so don’t recommend skipping or switching it with something else unless you want a different taste. The whole fam loved it! A keeper!! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Laura G says:

    Hey Mel – do you think arugula would work just as well in this salad or do you think it would get too wilted?

  5. Jessica says:

    I couldn’t stop eating this! It was so yummy. The only downer is that it left a horrible after taste! Am I the only one?

  6. Tammy says:

    Okay, yum yum yummy! Can’t wait to try it.

  7. Cathy Clark says:

    I made this last night and it was awesome. Had some leftover for lunch today and it was just as delicious because I only put dressing on what we ate last night, so it was still fresh and delicious today. Thanks for a great recipe that I will be making over and over.

  8. Leaving to make this right now! Already whisking πŸ™‚

  9. Nicole says:

    I’m going to make this today. But first did you use grated paramesan out of a can or buy it in a package???? Looks super good.

    • Mel says:

      Nicole – I used freshly grated Parmesan cheese but you could probably get away with the Parmesan from a can and be just fine.

  10. Johanna says:

    Love this! I’ve been looking for a new pasta salad… mine are so over done! Thanks!

  11. Natalie says:

    This looks so simple and delicious. It’s a perfect meal for a warm summer evening. I haven’t checked out the Whole Foods Market Cookbook. Thanks for introducing it to us.

  12. Rachel says:

    Nice! I can’t wait to give this one a try!

  13. Tammy says:

    Looks delicious! I love how simple, yet elegant it is..can’t wait to try this one! I have a Spinach and Tortellini Salad I posted a week or two ago on my blog that I think you would love, it’s really easy also…thanks for sharing!

  14. Amy Ziehl says:

    Yum. Yum. Yum.

  15. Amy says:

    This looks wonderful! I can’t wait to try it. πŸ™‚

  16. This is such a lovely salad, Mel! I really like the flavors you used in this. I’ll be keeping your recipe to try soon, for sure! Thanks for sharing this delicious, fresh and flavorful salad.

  17. I love a good pasta salad! I too have been craving them lately because of all the warmer weather we have been having.

  18. Jeanette says:

    Looks so good and I have been wanting to try new recipes that are meatless. I definitely want to try this one!
    btw, you can tell you have little ones in the house with the “white whine vinegar”! Me too!!!!!! πŸ™‚ cheers~ Jeanette

  19. Kim in MD says:

    What a gorgeous pasta salad! I love smoked mozzarella, and I am lucky to have a Whole Foods Market in my area. They carry just about every cheese I might need on any given day…I can’t wait to try this salad! πŸ™‚

  20. StephenC says:

    This is inspiring. We are great fans of smoked mozz. I’d probably use a different pasta, for the mouth feel – but that’s not a criticism. I might like farfalle. Nonetheless it’s a great idea. Thanks.

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