One of the best side dishes, especially in the summer, is pasta salad. This incredibly easy Italian pasta salad is loaded with salami, tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, olives, herbs, and pepperoncini- right along with classic rotini pasta. Paired with a dreamy homemade Italian dressing to complete this tasty side item.

Italian pasta salad in glass bowl with salad tong

Pasta salad is to the Summer as pumpkin is to the Fall, am I right?! Haha. Going full steam ahead with all the summery recipe vibes and I love every bit of it. Whenever I think of Italian pasta salad- or any pasta salad tbh, I think of family get togethers, potlucks, and workplace gatherings. It’s one of the easiest dishes to put together and one that just about everyone loves. Also, it compliments all sorts of main dishes.

I enjoy all kinds of pasta salad but if I’m keeping it real with ya, Italian pasta salad is my top fave! Give me a meaty, cheesy, and hearty pasta salad all day long. Lately, we have been enjoying this recipe left and right over my way. Seriously cannot believe that I’m just now sharing it but so happy to bring it to you, friends. Listen, I’m already confident that you + your loved ones will enjoy this all Summer and beyond, yeee!

italian pasta salad on pink plate with gold salad server

Italian Pasta Salad- Hey Boo, Hey!

Incredibly hearty thanks to hunks of salami, super filling with tomatoes, onion, mozzarella, olives, and more! Classic rotini pasta for that signature Italian market vibe. And then tossed together with a lip-smacking homemade Italian dressing that’ll make you wanna guzzle it down on it’s own…but like don’t.

Here’s Why You Will Love This Pasta Salad

IT’S GIVING EASY BREEZY: That’s right, prep the dressing, chop the accompaniments, boil your pasta, mix everything together- badda bing, badda boom. She’s beauty, she’s grace, and she’s so damn easy!

IT’S GIVING FLAVOR OVERLOAD: We don’t do bland/unseasoned tings over this way, nah. This Italian pasta salad is loaded with heaps of flavor from the pasta to the dressing. Every bite is filled with enormous flavor.

IT’S GIVING ENDLESS CUSTOMIZATIONS: I want you to see this pasta salad recipe as a guide that you can follow 100% or add/swap whatever your tastebuds desire. That’s one of the things I love about pasta salad is that there are no hard or fast rules. Add or replace your fave proteins, cheese, whatever.

IT’S GIVING MEAL PREP/MAKE-AHEAD VIBES: Don’t we all like a recipe that can be prepped ahead for us to have on hand for parties, events, etc? Well, this Italian pasta salad recipe is just that. Prep it, chill it in the fridge, and serve it up over the course of a few days. Yuhhhh, this is literally the best thing!

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ingredients for italian pasta salad on pink surface

Ingredients To Make This Italian Pasta Salad

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Pasta: The main star of the show- I love using *rotini* pasta because it is classic and often most used in traditional Italian pasta salad recipes (tri-colored rotini is fun too!). However, please feel free to use what you have on hand: best pasta shapes include penne, fusilli, bowtie, and cavatappi pasta.
  • Salami: Meaty, salty, hearty goodness! Another classic Italian staple, salami has great robust flavor. If you’re looking for a salami alternative: you can sub for pepperoni, chorizo, ham, chicken, steak, shrimp, etc. Just be sure that the meat you’re using is cured meat/or cooked beforehand.
  • Tomatoes: Bright and juicy grape/cherry tomatoes are a must!
  • Olives: I usually go for kalamata or castelvetrano olives for my pasta salad- use your fave.
  • Mozzarella cheese: Go for the mini bite-sized fresh mozzarella pearls, they’re the most perfect.
  • Red onion: Adds more flavor, texture, and a bit of a crunch.
  • Pepperoncini: An Italian hot chili pepper- adds a nice light heat and contrast in flavor.
  • For the Italian dressing: olive oil, red wine vinegar, shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese, mayonnaise, fresh parsley, garlic, salt/pepper, Italian seasoning, sugar, and lemon juice.

Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

  1. Add/swap vegetables: Other veggies to add in or swap in this recipe include chopped bell peppers or carrots, sautéed vegetables like chopped zucchini or asparagus. Go cray with your favorite veggies!
  2. Meatless/vegan Italian pasta salad: To make this recipe vegan, omit the meat and use vegan mozzarella cheese. And within the dressing, use vegan shredded parmesan and plant-based mayonnaise.

The Italian dressing seals the deal and brings everything together so beautifully. It’s just too good, y’all. This dressing is cheesy, creamy, nicely spiced, and so flavorful. After mixing everything together, pop it into the fridge for everything to mingle together. The flavors deepen even further and truly sing!

How To Make This Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Prep the accompaniments– chop up the meat and onion, slice the tomatoes, etc. That way when the pasta is done cooking, you can simply toss all of the goods with it in a large bowl.
  2. Make the Italian dressing– Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a jar and shake, shake, shake. Then set it aside and get ready to drizzle it over the pasta salad!
  3. Cook the pasta– Boil your pasta according to the package directions, usually *al dente* for a nice soft but firm texture (no overcooked mushy pasta plz). Then drain and run the pasta under cool water.
  4. Assemble the Italian pasta salad– Toss the drained pasta into a large bowl along with the salami, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella cheese, onion, and pepperoncini. Then drizzle in the dressing and toss the pasta salad to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt to taste.
  5. Let the pasta salad chill before serving: I know at this stage it’s tempting to want to devour straight away but hold on. Cover the pasta salad with a lid/plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge to sit for at least an hour. All of the flavors get to know each other and deepen, trust me on this.

Storing Your Italian Pasta Salad

Keep the pasta salad stored inside of an airtight container. This Italian pasta salad will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Depending on how you use the Italian dressing (using it all or reserving some)- make sure to always toss the pasta salad before serving as the dressing will settle to the bottom.

italian pasta salad in glass bowl with wood salad tongs

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UNTIL NEXT TIME…LOVE AND BUTTER,

Q.

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italian pasta salad on pink plate with gold salad server

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15m
  • Cook Time: 10m
  • Total Time: 25m
  • Yield: 46 1x

Description

This incredibly easy Italian pasta salad is loaded with salami, tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, olives, herbs, and pepperoncini- right along with classic rotini pasta. Paired with a dreamy homemade Italian dressing to complete this tasty side item.


Ingredients

Scale

For the pasta salad

  • 1lb dried rotini pasta, (penne, bowtie, and cavatappi pasta also work!)
  • 1/2 lb salami, sliced into pieces
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives (or your fave green/black olives!)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (mini)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • freshly chopped basil, for garnish- optional

For the Italian dressing

  • 3/4 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, or parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prep the dressing: I like to prep the Italian dressing first so it’s ready to go after cooking the pasta. To do this: combine all of the dressing ingredients into a jar, cover, and shake super vigorously to fully combine. Alternatively, you can pulse together using an immersion blender, too. And then set the dressing aside while you move on to the next steps.
  2. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to your package directions, al dente. Drain the pasta and then run under cold water to cool- making sure the pasta is full drained. Add the cool pasta into a large bowl.
  3. Add the salami, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella pearls, onion, and pepperoncini into the same bowl. Then drizzle the Italian dressing over the pasta. Use tongs to toss the salad together, taste the pasta salad and adjust the seasonings to your preference by adding more salt, if desired.
  4. I recommend covering the bowl with a lid/plastic wrap and then placing the pasta salad into the fridge for at least 1 hour. This allows for the flavors to mingle and settle against each other for a deeper flavor. Before serving, toss the pasta salad together, serve as desired, and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.
  2. Storing: this pasta salad will keep stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  3. Feel free to customize this Italian pasta salad recipe to your hearts content by adding/swapping other proteins, veggies, cheeses, peppers, etc.