Super easy Pasta Salad – with pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, pepperoncini, olives, and easy Italian dressing. DANGEROUSLY GOOD.
The Best Easy Pasta Salad
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.
We made this for Memorial Day and it was a huge hit! The dressing is absolutely delicious and goes perfectly with this salad. Thank you for sharing!!
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 to Make the Best Easy Pasta Salad
- Ingredients for This Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
- What About the Pasta Salad Dressing?
- How to Make Your Pasta Salad Dreams Come True
- Best Easy Pasta Salad: Frequently Asked Questions
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;
- 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.
Ingredients For This Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
Do you have two and a half seconds? Cool.
You will need:
- Your favorite pasta noodle shape
- Cherry tomatoes (or some other non-threatening veg)
- Mozz cheese balls
- Salami (pick a good spicy one)
- Pepperoncini (optional…sort of)
- Red onion and parsley
For the pasta, pick one 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 The Pasta Salad Dressing?
Thank you for asking. This is important.
We need a tangy Italian dressing. 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 Your Pasta Salad Dreams Come True
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
Keep any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days in a sealed container.
The Best Easy Pasta Salad
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 10+ – this yields more than 15 cups 1x
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!
a GIF AND a video?! it MUST be Friday <3!! Love this pasta salad…it feels SO Italian <3
Right?? We can’t be held back. Party time! 😀
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
At our house we’re typically Pinch of Yum fans, Garlic Basil Chicken with tomato butter sauce is a household fave. This recipe was way toooooo SALTY. Could we have done something wrong? We cut out the peppers and onions but added tons of cucumbers. It was not edible. My feet and hands swelled up almost instantly (not really but it tasted like they should have). I felt like I had my entire days allotment of sodium in one bite. Any minor interior mouth scratches were identified by screaming salt pains Does anyone else fine this to be not edible?
PS I love pasta salads, this was not pasta salad it was salt salad.
Sorry to hear that, Travis! Some readers have mentioned that if you taste the salad right after adding the dressing, it will be quite salty. But the saltiness does subside once the dressing soaks into the pasta.
Yes, It was very salty for me too. I think the two tablespoons of salt in the dressing was a bit much. I was literally crunching on salt.
I made this last night for a neighborhood lunch block party today. I started out making the dressing and used the course sea salt as called for. I knew I wanted to let the dressing “marinate”and let the salt. dissolve. I whisked it, shook it and and added Mezzetta basil pesto in lieu of fresh garlic and dried/fresh basil to the dressing. At first I panicked that this wasn’t going to be enough salad with just the one pound of pasta after it was cooked, but after adding all the ingredients (I used mild banana peppers instead of the pepperoncini) the bowl was full. I added about half a cup of the dressing at a time to the bare pasta and as I added each of the other salad ingredients I added another half cup. I just took the salad out of the ‘fridge and stirred it from the bottom up. Just tasted it. It is FANTASTIC and not salty. Looking forward to sharing it!
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!
Love hearing that. Thanks Sommer!
My family loved this salad! Super delish made 2 days before. This recipe is a keeper!
So happy to hear this, Barbara!
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!
Thanks Jane! 🙂 glad to hear that you like it!
Enjoyed this recipe. The longer the pasta was in the refrigerator the better it got. The dressing ingredients meld together and make this dish!
Made today for a birthday party tomorrow. It’s delicious!
So glad to hear you enjoyed this, Yanoula!
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! 🙂
Yes, yes, yes. You get it! hahaha! The marshmallows, for sure!
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 😉
Thanks Kylie! We have lots of help! 🙂
This is awesome, looks very delicious.
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 .
Yes I would! 🙂 It’s from my father in law – he makes some amazing one-of-a-kind ceramics pieces and his work is here — https://www.instagram.com/larryostrompottery/
This is the perfect meal to have for lunch at work the next day. I think I might make this. Thanks so much for sharing (:
Thanks! Hope you like it!
Is the nutritional info no longer being included? Or am I blind and just not seeing it anywhere?
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!
Best midnight snack ever. This pasta salad is gorgeous!!
ugh, why is it so good at midnight. WHYYYY.
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.
So great to hear that Lindsay! stay cool!
Great video! I love the music, makes me wanna dance. lol. Great recipe too. you guys have taken this to the next level. Keep it up.
Thank you so much! all credit to Alana, our video producer!
This is the bomb!
Hi guys! I was wondering how I can substitute sugar in the Italian dressing?
honey, agave, or omit altogether! 🙂 it will still taste great.
Potlucks are the best! And I love the GIF! There are so many beautiful colors!
thanks Cassie! 🙂 just trying some new things!
This looks like a tasty dish that would make everyone love it! Thank you for sharing!
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.
Hope you enjoy it, Joanne! 🙂
Definitely making this, looks delicious!
Hope you enjoy it!
Would any of these be good for a Christmas party?
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!
Served it at the new year party. Got many complement for the dish. Excellent salad.
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.
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.
Thank you so much! Just what I was craving. This is a great base recipe that can take off in various tasty directions.
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!
I’m sure they will! 🙂