italian pasta salad featured image
An Italian Pasta Salad is a quick and easy way to serve a refreshing cold side at your next potluck or barbecue or make it as a main meal. Colorful, flavorful, and filled with freshness.
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Table of Contents
  1. Easy and Fresh Italian Pasta Salad
  2. Why We Love This Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
  3. Ingredients
  4. Substitutions and Additions
  5. Recommended Tools
  6. How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
  7. Tips
  8. Storage Tips
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Other Easy Salad Recipes
  11. Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

An Italian Pasta Salad is so easy to make in minutes and is filled with fresh and colorful vegetables, tender spiral pasta, and two types of cheese tossed with your favorite dressing. This bright, bold, one-bowl recipe is the perfect cold dish that can be served as a side or main summer meal.

Cold pasta salads are always my go-to for a backyard barbecue or potluck. This is one of my favorites alongside my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad, Caprese Pasta Salad and Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe.

italian pasta salad hero image

Easy and Fresh Italian Pasta Salad

This Italian Pasta Salad is so quick and easy to make with flavorful Italian-inspired ingredients that provide the best blend of tastes and textures in every delicious bite.

Loaded with refreshing chopped vegetables, like red onion, cucumber, bell peppers for crunch, grape tomatoes for juicy sweetness, sliced sausage or salami and olives for pungent, savory flavors, creamy mozzarella balls, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, any tangy dressing coats all the little noodle crevices to create an unforgettable salad for any summer occasion.

Making this Italian Pasta Salad is a great way to clean out your fridge; it’s a fun way to add a customizable twist to a traditional pasta salad because it contains so many simple ingredients filled with your favorite combinations of crunch, color, and flavor. Serve this cold salad alongside the main meal, eat leftovers for lunch, or feed your friends at your next warm weather gathering.

This satisfying Italian pasta Salad is substantial as its own meal, but it also makes a great side for dinner next to my other mains like my Lemon Chicken, 3-Ingredient Brown Sugar Italian Chicken, Grilled Salmon, and Garlic Butter Steak Bites.

Why We Love This Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Quick and easy to make.
  • Uses fresh and flavorful ingredients.
  • Completely customizable and versatile recipe.
  • Feeds a crowd and can easily be doubled or tripled.
  • It’s bold, textually diverse, and holds up well for several days in the refrigerator.
  • Hearty and satisfying side dish that pairs well with grilled chicken, beef or fish.
  • Make-ahead and travel-friendly salad makes it perfect for potlucks, barbecues, and summer parties.
italian pasta salad on a white bowl

Ingredients

  • Rotini pasta: Feel free to use garden pasta or any shape of pasta you prefer. 
  • Summer sausage or salami
  • Grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • Black olives: You can also use green olives.
  • Red onion 
  • Cucumber: I love cucumber in this salad but you can leave it out.
  • Green bell pepper: I like all the colors of the peppers, but you can just use one kind of pepper if you prefer.
  • Red bell pepper
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Fresh Mozzarella pearls: Cubed mozzarella cheese will also work in this salad.
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • Fresh parsley
  • Italian dressing: Use your favorite brand or a homemade dressing. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Substitutions and Additions

  • Pick Your Pasta: Rotini does an amazing job at holding the cheese and dressing in the crevices for ultimate flavor, but you can use any medium size pasta such as fusilli, gemelli, penne, shells, or bow tie pasta.
  • Vary Your Veggies: Add your other favorite veggies, like diced artichokes, shredded carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
  • Delicious Dressings: Use any Italian dressing or if you prefer homemade Italian dressing, try my copycat Olive Garden Italian dressing. There are so many options, from a zesty Italian dressing, creamy Italian dressing, parmesan Italian dressing, and more.
  • Vegetarian Version: To make this a vegetarian pasta salad, simply remove any meat and bulk it up with a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, tofu, or meat alternative.
  • More Meat: If you’d like a bit more meat in your salad, add any combination of pepperoni, capicola, hot ham capicola, or even prosciutto to the mix.
  • Large pot
  • Pasta strainer or collander
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring tools
  • large bowl for serving
eating salad with a spoon

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad

This Italian Pasta Salad is the perfect quick and easy recipe to serve at any summer party or family get-together. Filled with your favorite fresh Italian-inspired ingredients, this simple side or light meal can be prepared in minutes.

  1. Prepare The Pasta: Cook the dry pasta according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking and cool quickly.
    Pro Tip: Cook it for 30 seconds less than the directions say for best results. 
  2. Chop the vegetables, meat, and cheese: Cut all of the vegetables, meat, and cheese into small pieces and add to the cooled pasta.
  3. Toss and Taste: Toss to combine all ingredients. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and gently stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Chill: Keep your pasta salad refrigerated until ready to serve.
salad ingredients in a bowl

Tips

  • Undercook your pasta by 30 seconds. If it is too done, it will get mushy as it soaks up the dressing.
  • Cutting your vegetables into small, uniform pieces will ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite and makes a pretty pasta salad.
  • Make this pasta to fit your family. If your family doesn’t like onions, you can omit them. If your family likes lots of meats, you can add all you want.
  • Allow pasta salad some time to marinade so the veggies and pasta absorb more flavor.

Storage Tips

  • To Store: Store your pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make my pasta salad in advance?

This Italian Pasta Salad is the perfect make-ahead recipe because it tastes best when it sits before you serve it. This gives the dressing a chance to permeate your veggies and pasta and brings together all of the fresh flavors, resulting in the best balanced and delicious Italian pasta salad.

Can I add other veggies and extras in this pasta salad?

You can absolutely customize your pasta salad with your favorite fillings. Just make sure to keep your pasta salad fun and colorful!

Why is it so important to cook the pasta al dente?

It’s important to cook the pasta al dente because the acid in the dressing will continue to break down the starches in the pasta. If cooked too long, it will cause it to get too mushy as it sits.

italian pasta salad in a bowl

Other Easy Salad Recipes

5 from 6 votes
italian pasta salad featured image

Italian Pasta Salad

Serves — 12
An Italian Pasta Salad is a quick and easy way to serve a refreshing cold side at your next potluck or barbecue or make it as a main meal. Colorful, flavorful, and filled with freshness.
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 10 ounces summer sausage or salami cut into small cubes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 3.8 ounces can black olives sliced
  • ½ cup red onion diced small
  • 1 cup cucumber diced
  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper diced
  • 8 ounces mozzarella pearls
  • cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. You can cook it for 30 seconds less than the directions say for best results. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking and cool quickly.
  • Have all the vegetables, meat and cheese cut and add to the cooled pasta.
  • Toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the pasta and gently stir.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Keep refrigerated till ready to serve.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage:
Store your pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Tips:
  • Undercook your pasta by 30 seconds. If it is too done, it will get mushy as it soaks up the dressing.
  • Cutting your vegetables into small, uniform pieces will ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite and makes a pretty pasta salad.
  • Make this pasta to fit your family. If your family doesn’t like onions, you can omit them. If your family likes lots of meats, you can add all you want.
  • Allow pasta salad some time to marinade so the veggies and pasta absorb more flavor.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 930mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 671IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 1mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank You FOR Sharing Jen 👏🏼👍🏼😊 YUM😋 And For Sharing ALL Add in Ideas👍🏼♥️ This LOOKS GREAT ❗️G-d♥️Bless

  2. 5 stars
    I make a similar salad… using tri colored rotini, ham cubes and Colby Jack cheese cubes. Although any favorite cheese cubes works. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!