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 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.
How Do You Make Pasta Salad?
Do you have two and a half seconds? Cool.
You will need:
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 dressing, you pasta salad boss, you. ♡
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.
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:
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 – 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.
- 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.
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: 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!