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Easy Mint, Cantaloup and Fontina Pasta Salad

This easy 5 ingredient Mint, Cantaloup and Fontina Pasta Salad has been a hit in our family for years! This bright and colorful salad boasts an unexpected refreshing sweet flavor with mint (fresh from the garden, of course!) as the star of the show! Best of all, this pasta salad is made using just 5 ingredients making it so easy to put together.

A bight colorful pasta salad featuring bow tie pasta, fontina cheese cube, cantaloup, and fresh mint.

My Go-To 5-Ingredient Pasta Salad: A Crowd-Pleasing BBQ Staple

I first tasted this super simple 5-ingredient pasta salad years ago at an end-of-season baseball team potluck party. I loved it so much that I just had to hunt down the family who brought it to get the recipe! Over the years, I’ve tweaked and perfected it, making it even more delicious. It’s been a summer BBQ staple ever since. It’s so easy to put together and always a crowd-pleaser! Plus, it looks so fun and festive, making it the perfect addition to any brunch, BBQ, picnic, or your next potluck gathering. I especially love finding great ways to use my harvest from my herb garden, and this salad is perfect for showcasing those fresh flavors.

A spoonful of this bright colorful fresh pasta salad.

Elevating Summer Recipes with Fresh Herbs from My Garden

I’ve been having so much fun putting my herb garden to good use lately. There’s just something so perfectly summery about stepping outside with my scissors and clipping whatever fresh herbs I need for a recipe, you know? Adding fresh mint to this pasta salad is chef’s kiss levels of delicious! Those just-snipped mint leaves straight from my own garden really take it over the top. You get those bright, refreshing minty notes in every bite that make the sweet cantaloupe and nutty poppy seed dressing taste even better.

a pot full of mint plants.

Harvesting Fresh Mint for the Perfect Pasta Salad

In my herb garden this year, I made sure to plant plenty of mint – those bright green leaves and refreshing scent are just too good to pass up! When it came time to make this pasta salad, I snipped off a bunch of stems straight from the garden. After giving them a quick rinse, I wrapped the mint in a damp paper towel and left it right on the kitchen counter overnight. Such an easy trick to keep those herbs super fresh until I was ready to chop and toss them into the salad the next day.

I’ve got several posts on the blog about growing mint. Check them out here:

me holding a mint cluster from my garden.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Quick and Easy: With only 5 ingredients, this summer salad comes together in no time.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: This fun dish is always a hit at gatherings, whether it’s a BBQ, picnic, or potluck. Your whole family will love it!
  • Versatile: Perfect for brunch, lunch, or dinner – it fits any occasion.
  • Fresh Herbs: Utilizing mint from your own garden adds a burst of fresh flavor.
  • Festive Appearance: As summer side dishes go, this salad boasts vibrant colors to make it as beautiful as it is delicious.
  • Minimal Prep: Little work is required, making it stress-free to prepare.
  • Customizable: You can easily tweak it to suit your taste preferences.
  • Healthy and Refreshing: A light and refreshing option that’s perfect for summer and a bit different than your average fruit salad!
A big spoonful of this salad.
A character drawing of an herb plant.

Shopping list:

Bow tie Pasta (farfalle)

Fresh mint leaves

Cantaloupe

Poppy seed dressing

Fontina cheese

Ingredients listed on each grocery item.

Ingredients, Substitutions and Variations

Pasta – Any medium pasta shape will work, but bow tie (farfalle) pasta is just so fun for this bright, cheery, colorful dish! The cute bow tie shapes pair perfectly with the vibrant colors of the cantaloupe and fresh mint. They also provide the ideal little scoops to capture all the delicious poppy seed dressing and creamy fontina cheese in each bite. Bow tie pasta’s unique shape makes this pasta salad not only delicious but visually appealing and playful on the plate. Its hearty texture holds up well when tossed with all the fresh ingredients too.

Mint – Fresh mint from your garden gives a wonderful fresh, bright taste to this salad. I recommend using spearmint or peppermint varieties, as their cool, lively flavors pair exquisitely with the sweet cantaloupe and nutty poppy seed dressing. The vibrant mint adds an invigorating herbal note that complements the other ingredients beautifully. If you don’t have a garden, look for bunches of fresh spearmint or peppermint at your local grocery store or farmer’s market when making this summertime pasta salad. The burst of mint’s signature aroma and flavor elevates each bite.

FontinaCheese – The semi-soft texture of the fontina provides a pleasant richness and creaminess to the salad, complementing the poppy seed dressing and fresh mint, and sweet cantaloup. In a pinch you can use fresh mozzarella instead.

Cantaloup – The inclusion of fresh cantaloupe lends a lovely sweet aroma and emphasizes the seasonality of this summertime pasta salad.Cantaloupe has a distinctively sweet melon flavor with floral, slightly musky notes. Its natural sweetness complements the fresh mint and provides a juicy contrast to the savory fontina cheese and poppy seed dressing. Honeydew melon would be a good alternative as the fresh fruit in this recipe.

Dressing – The poppy seed salad dressing adds a lovely nutty flavor and light coating to this pasta salad. You could use a store-bought poppy seed dressing like Brianna’s for convenience, or make your own homemade dressing. A homemade poppy seed dressing allows you to control the ingredients and adjust the tangy, sweet, and nutty notes to your taste preferences for this refreshing summer salad. For a wonderful homemade poppy seed dressing recipe visit Show Me the Yummy’s wonderful Poppy Seed Dressing Recipe.

All the ingredients for this pasta salad in separate bowls.

How to Make Easy Mint, Cantaloup and Fontina Pasta Salad

Pasta salad recipe with bow ties, mint, cantaloup and fontina cheese.

Easy Mint, Cantaloup and Fontina Pasta Salad

Stephanie LeBlanc
A refreshing summer pasta salad bursting with sweet cantaloupe, fresh mint, creamy fontina cheese, and a zesty poppy seed dressing. This bright, flavorful salad comes together quickly for an easy seasonal side or light main dish. Prep it ahead for picnics, potlucks or easy weeknight meals.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 4
Calories 319 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 cups packaged dried large bow tie pasta
  • 2 cups cantaloupe cubed
  • 1 cup fontina cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Briana's Poppy seed dressing
  • 1/4 cup Briana's Poppy seed dressing (reserved for serving)
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, lightly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain, then rinse with cold water and drain again.
  • In a large bowl toss together cooked pasta, cantaloup and cheese.
  • Pour dressing over pasta mixture tossing gently to coat. (Reserve extra dressing to mix when serving)
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to serve, if dry add more dressing and the chopped mint. (I find the mint can turn brown if mixd with the salad before chilling it.

Notes

  • Be sure the pasta has cooled before adding the cheese or the cheese will melt.
  • I find it best to add the mint just before serving otherwise the mint turns dark in the refrigerator.
  • I keep some poppy seed dressing aside and often add more when getting ready to serve. The pasta tends to soak up the dressing leaving the salad a bit dry. 

Storing Pasta Salad

Here are some tips for storing this fresh mint, cantaloupe, and fontina cheese pasta salad:

  1. Add the mint right before serving: To prevent the fresh mint leaves from turning dark or wilting in the refrigerator, it’s best to add them to the pasta salad just before serving to maintain their freshness and vibrant color.
  2. Use an airtight container or ziplock bag: The airtight seal is the best way to help keep the mint as fresh as possible and prevent the cantaloupe from drying out.
  3. Don’t fully dress the salad until ready to serve: Lightly dress the salad with a portion of the poppy seed dressing right before serving to prevent the pasta from absorbing too much dressing and becoming mushy. Keep extra dressing available to add more if needed.
  4. Use within 2-3 days: This pasta salad, with its fresh ingredients, is best consumed within 2-3 days for optimal freshness and flavor.
  5. Give it a gentle toss before serving: When ready to serve, gently toss the pasta, cantaloupe, mint, fontina cheese, and poppy seed dressing together to evenly distribute the ingredients and dressing.
  6. Don’t freeze: Avoid freezing this pasta salad, as the fresh ingredients like cantaloupe and mint won’t hold up well to freezing and thawing.

Following these tips will help keep the individual components fresh and prevent the textures from becoming compromised, allowing you to enjoy this refreshing pasta salad at its best.

Pasta salad recipe with bow ties, mint, cantaloup and fontina cheese.

This Easy 5 Ingredient Mint Cantaloup and Fontina Pasta Salad is a great idea for any gathering. The combination of fresh mint and summer fruit makes it a refreshing and delicious dish. It’s a great way to showcase the vibrant flavors of the season with just a little bit of effort. Whether you’re hosting a BBQ, picnic, or potluck, this salad is sure to be a hit!

While out in your herb garden grab some basil and be sure to give my Roasted Zucchini with Pesto and Parmesan recipe a try! For dessert consider grabbing some rosemary to make my Rosemary and Lavender butter cookies!

Thanks for visiting the blog today! I love it when you do! Please leave any questions you have below in comments.

my signature which is a drawing of me sitting.

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