Italian Pasta Salad


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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!

A bowl full of colorful Italian Pasta salad ready for a potluck!

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

A small serving of colorful Italian Pasta salad ready for a potluck!

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.

A bowl full of colorful Italian Pasta salad ready for a party!

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

4.64 from 11 votes
Review Recipe

Italian Pasta Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Tender pasta, ripe juicy tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, salami and mozzarella cheese are tossed in an Italian dressing for the perfect make ahead side dish.

Ingredients

  • 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

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Instructions

  1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 324, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 817mg, Potassium: 314mg, Carbohydrates: 34g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 12g, Vitamin A: 855%, Vitamin C: 23.8%, Calcium: 104%, Iron: 1.1%

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword Italian Pasta Salad

Repin this Super Summer Salad!

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. #spendwithpennies #summersalad #pastasalad #easysidedish #easyrecipe #pastarecipe #healthyrecipe #freshsidedish

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Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

  1. Hey Holly,

    I enjoy your Recipes so much. However, you appear to have left the bullet points for Homemade Italian Dress in the recipe – blank??

    Thank you for all your delicious Recipe.

    1. Ah sorry Mary, I’ve updated it. Here you are:

      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

  2. This is a great recipe, for sure. I grew up making” Italian Pasta Salad”, since my family is in the restaurant business. We always use “Kraft Robusto Italian Salad Dressing” (very flavorful), and we also add a secret ingredient, a generous sprinkle of McCormick’s “Salad Supreme”, which you can find in the spice isle of your local supermarket. These two ingredients will take your Italian Pasta Salad to the next level, so please enjoy!

  3. My husband won’t eat salami so I’m going to try it with crumbled bacon and the broccoli. Time to hit the market for fresh veggies!!!

  4. Has anyone added broccoli to this recipe or might that be too much? What about mild banana peppers? If I use these should I cut back on the other peppers a bit?

    1. I haven’t tried it but I think either would be delicious. No need to cut back on the other ingredients but you may need a little bit more dressing if you add a lot.

  5. Omg. This is the BEST pasta salad I’ve ever had. I added ham as well salami to mine. I didn’t have enough mozzarella so I also added Cheddar/Colby mix to iit, as well as the parmesan. I am truly amazed. I’ve never tried salami because I assumed I didn’t like it. Ha! It added such great flavor to the pasta. Simply the best.

  6. My daughter is vegetarian so I loaded in 1/2 can of artichoke hearts and a handful of fresh spinach (both chopped). We used Ken’s Steakhouse Simply Vinaigrette Italian (about a cup). It was good enough to add to our Family Cookbook of absolute favorites!

  7. I love this pasta! Your recipe is almost exactly like mine. I also use salami, “Genoa”, which is a hard salami. I stack the slices and cut the stack into 4ths. I like to use “Wishbone Robusto Italian” salad dressing for this pasta salad, only b/c I like it better than a Vinaigrette. I also add some (to taste) “McCormick Salad Supreme”, which has incredible flavor. Whenever I bring this pasta dish to an event, I’m always asked for the recipe.

    1. This recipe calls for 1 cup bottled Italian vinaigrette dressing and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Hope that helps :) Enjoy Dana!

  8. This recepie was the winner when my friend asked me to make a pasta salad… It did not disappoint… Amazing flavor and so beautiful and colorful… Oh and I should mention so easy to make

  9. Super simple, detailed, economical, light meal for the family! I love that you’re including many “on-hand” ingredients. I’m about to make this today. I will be using the added veggie suggestions as well. Tfs!

  10. This is the perfect way to get my kids to eat veggies…mixing them with salami and pasta (their favorite foods!) :)

  11. I could dive right into this bowl and eat it every day for lunch. I love pasta salads like this and your tips are spot on!