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The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad

76 reviews / 4.4 average

Meet your new summer bestie:

A stupidly easy Italian pasta salad with rotini, juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion, salami, olives, herbs, and a drench of quick homemade Italian dressing.

If you want to know what I’ve eaten for 4 of my last 5 meals, it’s THIS SUMMER ESSENTIAL. We are kind of having a moment here.

Pasta salad ingredients in bowl.

In my mind, a nice classic pasta salad serves one of two scenarios:

  • Attending a picnic, potluck, or other end-of-summer-everyone-bring-something type party;
  • Addressing the leftover meat, cheese, and vegetables in my fridge and making them into a meal that I pretty much want to eat 24/7.

This pasta salad will do both for ya.

Pasta salad being mixed with spoons.

How Do You Make Pasta Salad?

Do you have two and a half seconds? Cool.

You will need:

Ingredients for pasta salad in bowls.

Just… some stuff.

It’s very flexible. These are my favorite pasta salad mix-ins:

Good, spicy salami. Yummy cheeses. Tomatoes or some other friendly non-threatening vegetable. Greens of some sort – even if it’s just fresh parsley. Olives and red onions and pepperoncini.

Also, we need pasta with good solid texture and shape to absorb all the sauce. I like rotini. (Also, DeLallo! It’s our favorite. The semi-rough texture is unrivaled for sauce-soakage. I get mine at Target or Cub Foods.)

What About A Pasta Salad Dressing?

Thank you for asking. This is important.

We need a tangy Italian dressing.

Homemade, in a blender or food processor, so it takes approximately 60 seconds. You made that Italian dressing, you pasta salad boss, you. ♡

Italian dressing for pasta salad in jar.

Final step:

Toss together, taste and adjust, and exercise every self-control muscle in your body so as not to eat the whole thing before everyone comes over.

Pasta salad in serving bowl.

May I offer one last tidbit of advice? You do not need to wait to be invited to a picnic or potluck to get some pasta salad magic in your life.

This is a weeknight’s dream meal.

Stop at the store on the way home and pick up some good salami and cheese, some olives, and a few fresh herbs. Cook up some pasta, toss it all together, and voila. Cold pasta salad + a glass of rose for dinner, and colder pasta salad as leftovers for lunch all week.

I will be over in a flash.

Check Out Our Video For How To Make Pasta Salad:

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The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad


  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 10+ – this yields more than 15 cups 1x

Description

Super easy Italian Pasta Salad – with pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, pepperoncini, olives, and easy Italian dressing. DANGEROUSLY GOOD.


Ingredients

Scale

Pasta Salad Essentials:

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta – I like rotini!
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • 1 lb. salami or summer sausage, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini (optional, but do it)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (white vinegar or red wine vinegar work)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (yes, tablespoons – see notes!)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each dry oregano and dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs if you want! sometimes I add fresh parsley, basil, or chives.

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water for more flavor. Allow to cool slightly and toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
  3. Toss all ingredients together! I like to use about three-fourths of the dressing, and then I save the rest of the dressing to add to my leftovers.
  4. Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I think it actually tastes best the day AFTER you make it.

Equipment

Notes

Salt FYI: Please note that the amount written is for COARSE sea salt. If you are using fine table salt, start with 2 teaspoons and add more to taste. The dressing itself will be very salty. Like, too salty for a normal salad. But in this recipe, that’s what we want! That dressing is going to get tossed with an entire pound of plain pasta, as well as a whole lot of fresh unseasoned vegetables, and it will taste delicious once it’s all tossed up.

Customizing Your Pasta Salad: By all means, customize this salad – that’s what it does best! Try adding blanched green beans, fresh spinach, artichokes, red or yellow peppers, chickpeas, etc. for a more veg-forward version. Or different types of cheese (feta? parmesan?), or different shapes of pasta (penne? fusili? maybe even some tortellini?)… the possibilities are endless. I love this salad as-is but I also love its flexibility!

  • Category: Side
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: italian pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, best pasta salad

Recipe Card powered by Tasty Recipes logo
6/21/19 Note: If you’ve made this recipe in the past, you may notice a few slight changes. The most notable is that we doubled the amount of dressing so a) it’d be even more delicious, and b) you could save some extra dressing for your leftovers.

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of easy pasta recipes. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

223 Comments

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Athena Contarino

          I am making this today for a family cookout, yes we are Greek and Italian, so I tweaked up the recipe a bit, adding pepperoni instead of salami, adding herb and oil marinated green olives, adding red, yellow and orange bell peppers and pepperoncini peppers and topping it with parmesan cheese

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sommer

    This looks deeelish! I am making this tonight! Thanks for another recipe I KNOW will be great 🙂 You are my go-to for recipes I can count on my whole family enjoying!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Barbara

        My family loved this salad! Super delish made 2 days before. This recipe is a keeper!






  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jane

    This quick pasta salad really hits on all cylinders. The right combination of easy store-bought elements with a delicious homemade dressing. The entire combination just sounds delicious and the mix and match of just the things you want to add makes it versatile and appealing for all who will eat it! Great job on this!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Growing up in Wisconsin I know exactly what kinds of salads you’re talking about. Salads heavy on the mayo, with marshmallows and maraschino cherries! I love your lightened up take on pasta salad! 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This sounds like my kinda weeknight meal…quick, easy and delish. I too have been getting into whole wheat pasta lately and I am loving it!! Thanks for sharing.
    P.S great job on the vids 😉

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Judye

    Would you be able to share with me where you got the bowl in the picture with the italian pasta salad? I love the creme color with the dark spots! You food photography is so appetizing !! Good work !!!!
    Thank you .
    Judye

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jenn

    Is the nutritional info no longer being included? Or am I blind and just not seeing it anywhere?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      No, we usually just add it in last and sometimes it gets forgotten in the rush of publishing (and lately we’ve been troubleshooting some big site issues so it just completely got missed). I will add it now!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lindsay

    We are literally melting here in western NY so this was the perfect easy to prepare not hot lunch. In love with the dressing as well.






  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Ruth

    This looks like a tasty dish that would make everyone love it! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This Italian pasta salad sounds good. I find using bottled dressing helps to keep the pasta from absorbing too much of the oil but your dressing sounds delicious and you could just add it right before serving it. This is great for hosting parties or take along.






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Monica

    I am making this for my husband’s work party tomorrow at Golds Gym! All the big wigs will partake of it I hope! Thank you!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Fix Your Skin

    I just tried this, to bring to a party tomorrow. It’s amazing. Right now it’s late at night and i can’t stop thinking about it sitting in the fridge because i want some. But have to wait ’til tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Ellie

    I just stumbled upon your blog and I have to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU. As a newly pregnant woman, I have been craving pasta salad and my goodness woman, you are a godsend. I will never ever forget this blog and all the incredible recipes on it.






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Carla Reynolds

    Thank you so much! Just what I was craving. This is a great base recipe that can take off in various tasty directions.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Alice

    I need a quick pasta salad to take to a teacher-appreciation potluck at my son’s school tomorrow, and this one is the winner! I’m using bottled dressing, sliced pepperoni that I’ll dice up (because I have it on-hand) and diced mozzarella because it’s so much cheaper than the little balls. I’m hoping the teachers love it! it looks delish!