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.
Pasta salads are one of my go-to potluck dishes from easy and fresh Greek Pasta Salad to a delicious Caesar Pasta Salad and of course my famous Dill Pickle Pasta Salad! Not only does everyone love them, but pasta salads are super easy to make and they’re even better when made ahead of time!
Potluck Perfect Pasta Salad
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. It travels well and goes with pretty much anything.
Big Bold Flavors
This easy pasta salad recipe is loaded with flavor, you can add in your own favorite Italian inspired ingredients; diced artichokes and sundried tomatoes also make great additions!
Ingredients for pasta salad:
- Bold Flavors: cheese, salami, olives, and Italian seasonings add a big punch of flavor
- Crunch: Bell pepper adds great for color, crunch, and flavor
- Veggies: I love the juicy tang tomatoes add, throw in some cucumbers or any veggies you have on hand
Noodles for Pasta Salad
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!
Cook the pasta al dente so it isn’t mushy and it holds up well to the dressing.
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 will make a mushy pasta salad as the acids from the 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 before adding the 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, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Italian Pasta Salad Dressing
To make this recipe quick and easy, I use a bottled Italian dressing but of course, homemade Italian Dressing is amazing if you have the ingredients on hand.
Make ahead… The best thing about this pasta salad recipe is that it gets better as it sits and the flavors blend! It’s the perfect make ahead side dish, it takes 20 only about 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)!
Make Homemade Italian Dressing combine the following:
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or use half olive oil, half vegetable oil)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or your favorite)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Creamy Tuna Pasta Salad
- Bow Tie Pasta Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Easy Greek Pasta Salad
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
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.