Super easy Pasta Salad – with pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, pepperoncini, olives, and easy Italian dressing. DANGEROUSLY GOOD.
Meet your new summer bestie: A stupidly easy pasta salad with pasta, juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion, salami, olives, herbs, and a drench of quick homemade 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.
Let’s have a moment together, shall we?
In This Post: Everything You Need For Easy Pasta Salad
- WATCH how this pasta salad is made
- Ingredients you’ll need
- About (homemade!) pasta salad dressing
- How to make this recipe
- Storing and making ahead of time
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More pasta salad recipes
Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?
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 when you need to bring a side dish;
- 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 delicious little number will do both for ya.
Pasta Salad Ingredients
Do you have two and a half seconds? Cool.
You will need these ingredients:
- Your favorite pasta noodle shape
- Cherry tomatoes (or some other non-threatening veg)
- Mozz cheese balls
- Salami (pick a good spicy one)
- Black olives or kalamata lives
- Pepperoncini (optional…sort of)
- Red onion and parsley
For the pasta, pick a pasta shape with good solid texture and shape to absorb all the sauce. I like rotini (or fusilli), penne, or farfalle.
About Pasta Salad Dressing
This is important.
We need a tangy Italian dressing (no mayo here!). Here are our ingredients.
- olive oil
- white vinegar
- salt and pepp
- dried oregano and basil
- little bit of sugar
- fresh herbs (like parsley, more basil, or chives)
Homemade, in a blender or food processor, so it takes approximately 60 seconds. You made that dressing, you pasta salad boss, you. ♡
How To Make Pasta Salad (4 Steps!)
Okay, it’s summer, so you know we’re not spending all day in the kitchen. We’re bringing this beauty to share with friends, family, neighbors, post office workers, daycare providers, pretty much whoever can get their hands on a fork stat. Let’s make pasta salad!
- Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse. Allow it to cool slightly and toss a bit of olive oil in there.
- Chop all your veggies, cheese, meat, and other fixings.
- Blitz up your dressing in a blender or shake it up in a jar.
- 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.
Storing Pasta Salad and Making Ahead Of Time
The beauty of pasta salad is that the flavors get even better the longer it all sits and lingers together!
- For storing: After I make this pasta salad, whether making it ahead or storing leftovers, I just pop it in the fridge and it will keep for 2-3 days.
- For making ahead: I love to make pasta salad 12-24 hours ahead of time. This gives it time to absorb the dressing but not get mushy!
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.
Best Easy Pasta Salad: Frequently Asked Questions
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. Curious about why we recommend specific salts? This helpful article will tell you why!
By all means, customize this salad – that’s what it does best! Try adding blanched green beans, fresh spinach, artichokes, red bell peppers, chickpeas, broccoli, etc. for a more veg-forward version. Or different types of cheese (feta cheese? parmesan cheese?), 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!
Keep any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days in a sealed container.
Yes! And in fact, I recommend it! This tastes especially delicious when the flavors get to linger all together for a bit. I’d make it 12-24 hours ahead of time.
While we’d all love to have pasta salad always at the ready, unfortunately, this cannot be frozen! The pasta will get especially weird and mushy, as well as the veggies too.
Since this is served cold, you should either remove it from the table once 2 hours have passed (putting it back in a fridge/cooler or tossing out), OR find a way for it to be served in a larger container of ice so that it stays at 40 degrees or less. Lots of good safe food practices for picnics and potlucks here!
Super easy pasta salad – with pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, pepperoncini, olives, and easy Italian dressing. DANGEROUSLY GOOD.
Pasta Salad Essentials:
- 1 pound uncooked pasta
- 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:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup white vinegar (white vinegar or red wine vinegar work)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1–2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (yes, tablespoons – see notes section!)
- 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.
- 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.
- Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
- 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.
- Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I think it actually tastes best the day AFTER you make it.
Update 7/12/22: Based on reader feedback and additional testing, the olive oil in the dressing was reduced to 1/2 cup (previous, it was 1 1/2 cups).
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. If you don’t want as salty a dressing, feel free to reduce it to 1 tablespoon.
You can also save time on onion prep with this guide on how to cut an onion.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Side
- Method: Mix
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, best pasta salad, potluck recipe, summer recipe
Try Our Other Pasta Salad Recipes
- Lemon Herb Pasta Salad with Marinated Chickpeas (fresh, bright, easy!)
- Zippy Orzo Summer Salad (made easy with rotisserie chicken)
- Lemongrass Vermicelli Salad (that dressing though)
- Spicy Peanut Soba Noodle Salad (lots o’ fresh veggies and noodles – just how we like it)
One More Thing!
This recipe is part of our collection of easy pasta recipes. Check it out!