This “pasta” salad can be made low-starch by swapping out the pasta for homemade roasted cauliflower and skipping the cannellini beans–for those following a low-carb lifestyle. It is one of my husband’s favorite summer dishes (mine too!) We like to add a hefty spoonful or two of low-fat cottage cheese for a protein-packed addition that complements the other cheeses and makes for a heartier dish that can stand on its own for dinner. It’s also a great side salad for any cookout. The absolute key is the fresh basil. Tomato, basil, and mozzarella really is a perfect combination, so enjoy this variation. It also keeps well for leftovers.

Serves 5-6 as a main dish


Large head cauliflower OR 1/3 box whole wheat penne pasta (2-3 servings’ worth)

1 to 1.5 lb ripe tomatoes, diced

3 to 4 medium cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 to 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 bunch (~ 1 large fistful) fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

1 cup shredded mozzarella (organic or light)

20 Kalamon olives, sliced

1 jar hearts of palm, drained and cut into disks

Optional: 1 can cannellini beans

Optional topping: organic 2% cottage cheese



  1. Either roast the cauliflower ahead of time, OR cook the pasta until al dente and drain. To roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and lightly grease a large roasting dish. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets, place in a sealable bag with 1-2 tsp of olive oil and sea salt, seal the bag, and then massage the oil and salt to cover all florets. Roast for 30 mins, stir, and roast 15 min more.
  2. Combine all other ingredients, except the cottage cheese.
  3. Add the pasta or roasted cauliflower and stir until well combined. Allow the flavors to marinate 20 minutes, or serve immediately.
  4. Serve with extra Parmesan and cottage cheese.tomato basil pasta or cauliflower salad tomato basil pasta or cauly salad