This easy Italian pasta salad recipe is sure to be a summer favorite! This super quick and easy make ahead recipe is loaded with perfectly cooked noodles, a tangy homemade italian dressing, creamy mozzarella, salty salami, and more!
Cold pasta salad is the best. It’s really all I need in life when outside temperatures are in the high 90s and I’m sweating like crazy. Sure. It would be nice to lounge by the pool with a mocktail in hand, but if I’m being real, I’d rather just crank the AC and curl up on the couch with the largest bowl of perfectly chilled pasta salad, which today, happens to be one of my very favorites: easy Italian pasta salad.
This cold pasta salad recipe is loaded with everything you want in a good italian pasta salad: rotini noodles, olives, peppers, tomatoes, onion, mozzarella, salami, and the BEST homemade Italian dressing. You could totally use store bought dressing if you want, but I’m telling you, homemade is best and it’s super easy. I promise.
Make it as a side for your favorite grilled protein or scoop yourself an extra serving and have it plain for dinner . . . you can’t go wrong.
What goes in pasta salad with italian dressing?
- Noodles – I like rotini
- Olives – if you hate ’em, you can omit ’em, but IIIIIII LOVE ’em
- Peppers – red and green bell peppers
- Red onion
- Mozzarella balls
- Homemade Italian dressing
- An extra splash of red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, parmesan, and salt
How to make pasta salad with italian dressing
- Place all above ingredients into a large bowl.
Think you can handle it? 😉
How to make pasta salad dressing
While you can certainly use any dressing you like, I think my homemade italian dressing is absolutely perfect for this recipe. All you really need to do is throw a few ingredients into a mason jar and shake it until it’s combined!
Tips to make the perfect italian pasta salad
- Use rotini or another “short” pasta – I think penne, bow-tie or even medium shells would be fine.
- That being said, I think rotini pasta is the best shape for this recipe.
- Cook your pasta al dente.
- Mushy pasta in a pasta salad is no good. 😉
- Make extra dressing.
- Because there’s nothing worse than dry pasta salad.
- Taste and re-season AFTER the pasta chills.
- Cold pasta needs more seasoning than warm pasta, so while the seasonings might taste perfect (or maybe even taste too aggressive) right after it’s made, it’s likely you’ll need to add more salt, vinegar, cheese, etc. after the pasta has been sitting in the fridge for a bit.
- Make this in advance!
- Everyone loves a good meal prep recipe and this one is perfect. It’s hearty enough to not get soggy in the fridge and it actually tastes better the next day!
What main dish goes with pasta salad?
Anything grilled! Grilled chicken, grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, burgers. You name it. It’ll be delicious. 😉
How long does cold italian pasta salad last?
I’d say this would be fine, covered in the fridge, for up to a week!
More delicious pasta salad recipes:
Perfectly cooked pasta, a tangy, sharp, herb-y homemade dressing, hearty salami, and crunchy fresh summer-y veggies . . .
What more is there in life?!
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 (16 oz) package rotini pasta cooked al dente according to package directions and cooled slightly
- 1 (6 oz) can sliced black olives drained
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1 (8 oz) pint cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
- 1 (8 oz) package small fresh mozzarella balls
- 1 pound salami diced
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1-2 batches homemade Italian dressing makes about 1 cup, I used one and then added the below ingredients
- 2 - 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar optional after tasting
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning optional after tasting
- 1 teaspoon salt more or less to taste after tasting (I did 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- Place cooked and cooled pasta, olives, peppers, tomatoes, onion, mozzarella, salami, and parmesan into a large bowl.
- Toss with ONE batch of the homemade Italian dressing.
- If serving immediately, taste and re-season if necessary.
- If serving later, cover and store in the fridge until chilled.
- Uncover, stir, then taste and re-season with more: Italian dressing, vinegar, Italian seasoning, and/or salt, if necessary!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.