Italian pasta salad is one of my favorite cold pasta salad dishes! Fresh and colorful vegetables, cheese, salami, and Italian vinaigrette are tossed with your favorite pasta to create an unforgettable dish for just about any summer occasion.
Not only does everyone love them, pasta salads are super easy to make and they’re even better when made ahead of time!
Whenever summer rolls around, we always seem to be headed to barbecues, potlucks, and patio parties. Of course I’m always asked to bring a big pitcher of Classic Mojitos (it’s the drink I’m known for) but I almost always bring a cold pasta salad recipe along too!
This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is a really fun twist on a classic pasta salad because it’s loaded with so many goodies. This pasta salad travels well and goes with pretty much anything.
The addition of cheese, salami, and Italian seasonings really add a big punch of flavor! While I add bell pepper for color and flavor, you can add in your own favorite Italian inspired ingredients; diced artichokes and sun dried tomatoes also make great additions!
Tri-color rotini does an amazing job at holding the cheese and Italian dressing in the crevices for max flavor, but you can use shells, or whatever medium noodles you happen to have handy!
The best thing about this pasta salad with Italian dressing? It gets better as it sits! It’s the perfect make ahead side dish, and it seriously only takes 20 minutes to prepare. What could be better than that?
As this Italian pasta salad sits in the fridge, the acids in the dressing actually work to help break down the starches in the pasta and the proteins in the veggies, resulting in a more flavorful and tender pasta salad (so be sure not to overcook your noodles)!
Tips to Make the Perfect Italian Pasta Salad
- Cut your veggies small: Cutting your vegetables into pieces slightly smaller than bite-sized will ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite!
- Don’t overcook your noodles: Overcooking your noodles will result in a mushier pasta salad, as the acids from the Italian dressing will break down the starches farther. Shock your noodles once they are cooked al dente in cold water for best results!
- Cool your pasta slightly before adding the rest of your toppings: You don’t want to begin to cook your vegetables while you toss everything together!
- Let your pasta salad sit before you serve it: This gives the dressing a chance to really permeate your veggies and pasta, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious Italian pasta salad!
- Keep it colorful: If you are adding some extra veggies you have on hand, keep your pasta salad fun and colorful! I love adding things like artichokes, shredded carrots, sundried tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Italian Pasta Salad
- 16 oz tricolor rotini
- 1/2 green bell pepper diced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1/3 cup red onion diced
- 8 oz salami chopped
- 1 cup bottled Italian vinaigrette dressing
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss.
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)