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.
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 Italian 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 Italian 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.
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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
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!