A Spicy Perspective

Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe: Made with fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor, this is the most perfect cold pasta salad!

Italian pasta salad recipe

Italian Pasta Salad

One of my favorite family recipes is a classic Italian pasta salad Lt. Dan’s grandma, Mo, used to make.

Every time she served it she would change the recipe just a little bit. Yet her pasta salad always included fusilli pasta, little slivers of hard salami, black olives, tomatoes, and cheese.

Over the years, I’ve made her recipe, tweaking it as I go, just as Mo always did. Lt. Dan says my version of Mo’s pasta salad is “Legit” and that’s really saying something. To him, Mo was the queen of all things. She certainly left her mark on both of us.

Pasta salad ingredients

My Favorite Cold Pasta Salad Recipe

I know many families have an Italian style salad recipe that gets pulled out for picnics and large events.

I’m partial to Mo’s because it’s heavily loaded with fresh veggies and pops of rich flavor from the salami, olives, and soft mozzarella. And mine isn’t much different!

My personal adaptation is to add jarred “Grilled Piquillo Peppers” to offer a bit of tangy sweetness. If you can’t find them, jarred roasted red peppers provide a similar appeal.

Therefore, this is what I consider The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe. It’s bold, textually diverse, and holds up well for several days in the refrigerator.

I’ve never tasted another version I like better.

Italian pasta recipe

Pasta Salad Dressing Ingredients

The homemade Italian vinaigrette is made with a generous amount of fresh garlic, giving the entire bowl a zesty punch.

  • Red Wine VinegarA rich and full-flavored taste of acidic vinegar.
  • Olive OilAnd what pairs well with vinegar? Beautiful olive oil.
  • Garlic Zesty and delicious.
  • Honey To add sweetness to the dressing.
  • Dried Italian Seasoning To season the salad.
  • Salt Helps balance and enhance all other flavors.
Italian Salad

Best Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Fusilli PastaThis is the corkscrew-shaped pasta, short or long
  • Cherry TomatoesSweeter and less acidic than regular tomatoes
  • Hard Salami Smokey and sumptuous, it’s the perfect addition to this salad
  • Roasted Red PeppersOr grilled piquillo peppers
  • Red Onion For flavor and crunch
  • Italian Parsley The flat-leaved parsley with robust flavor
  • Mini Mozzarella BallsNot only are these cheese balls so cute they are also so fresh and delicious
  • Black OlivesThis brings a salty and oily flavor to the salad
Mozzarella Balls

How To Make Italian Pasta Salad

  1. Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add a large spoonful of salt to the water. Then stir in the dried pasta. Cook according to package instructions, usually 6-8 minutes to al dente. Drain the pasta, and rinse with cold water in a colander. Shake off the excess water and place the pasta in a large salad bowl.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, whisk all the ingredients of the vinaigrette in a small bowl. Set aside. Then chop all the salad ingredients.
  3. Pour the tomatoes, sliced hard salami, chopped piquillo peppers, red onion, parsley, mozzarella ball, and olives over the pasta. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and toss well to coat. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make this Antipasto Salad Recipe Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! This recipe is a great make-ahead for parties, family events, or as an easy lunchbox item to enjoy all week. Actually, most pasta salads taste better after sitting for a day or two. Just make sure to cover it well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Does This Italian Pasta Salad Recipe Need To Be Refrigerated?

Oh yes. With all the meats, cheeses, and fresh produce in the mix, you do need to keep it chilled until you are ready to serve it.

What Goes With Cold Pasta Salad?

Just about everything! Serve this salad with grilled proteins, picnic foods, and barbecue favorites.

Can I Make Gluten Free Pasta Salad?

Yes! However, most gluten-free pasta varieties break down within a few hours. So if you want to go gluten-free, you will need to serve it immediately after mixing.

Would Omitting Onion Change The Results Of The Recipe?

You can omit the onions. There are plenty of other pungent flavors represented.

pasta salad with italian dressing

More Pasta Salad Recipes:

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4.99 from 72 votes
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Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe: Made with fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor this is the most perfect Italian style pasta salad!
Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette:

For the Italian Pasta Salad:

  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped hard salami slices
  • 3/4 cup chopped grilled piquillo peppers or jarred roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 12 ounces mini mozzarella balls, drained and halved (22-24 balls)
  • 3.8 ounces sliced black olives (1 can), drained

Instructions

  • Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add a large spoonful of salt to the water. Then stir in the dried pasta. Cook according to package instructions, usually 6-8 minutes to al dente. Drain the pasta, and rinse with cold water in a colander. Shake off the excess water and place the pasta in a large salad bowl.
  • While the pasta is boiling, whisk all the ingredients of the vinaigrette in a small bowl. Set aside. Then chop all the salad ingredients.
  • Pour the tomatoes, sliced hard salami, chopped piquillo peppers, red onion, parsley, mozzarella ball and olives over the pasta. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and toss well to coat. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as needed.

Video

Notes

The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe tastes best, when it’s had time to sit, so the flavors mingle together. If you can, make it several hours (or even a day) ahead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 363kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 478mg, Potassium: 254mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 375IU, Vitamin C: 18.9mg, Calcium: 132mg, Iron: 1.3mg
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Sommer Collier

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76 comments on “Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe”

  1. wow, delicious and yummy pasta salad its was amazing thanks for sharing this. Definitely i will try this

  2. Je suggère une pizza au thon:
    * pâte à pizza
    * sauce tomate en tube
    * thon émietté
    * olives noires
    * rondelles de bûche de chèvre
    Toutes les ingrédients en quantités selon goût…
    Cuisson 10 à 20 m selon le four

  3. Coucou Anne,
    Merciiiiiiiii Superbe idée, j’ai flashé pour les spaghettis au thon. Perso, je mettrai plutôt 2 boites pour satisfaire mes besoins « carnivores ».

    @ TOUTE LA COMMUNAUTE DE P&P (surtout les personnes qui vivent en appartement)
    Pour vous évader, je vous conseille la rubrique « VOYAGES » où Anne nous raconte ses différentes pérégrinations à travers le monde : évasion garantie.
    Portez vous bien.

  4. Comme ils sont sympathiques et bien venus ces articles « que faire avec… ».! Lorsque l’ on est obligé de fouiller les placards à provisions pour éviter les risques de contagion au supermarché, on est bien content d’apprendre que, finalement, on peut apporter sur la table de délicieux petits plats. Merci Anne pour vos précieux conseils. Bises.

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  6. Great post! Thanks

  7. Just tried this recipe and my family loved it. Thank you so much!

  8. I made this a day before serving it and the flavors developed so much to bring this recipe over the top in deliciousness!

  9. Made this for a bbq and it was one of the first sides to disappear. I almost didn’t get to try it. lol. Thanks for a great recipe.

  10. Pasta salad is one of my most favorite things and this recipe hits all the right spots. I’m planning to make it all the time this summer. Thanks for the great recipe.

  11. Our go to spring/summer recipe for pot lucks and family events….can it be frozen??

  12. Thanks for this great recipe to author. You probably understand how difficult to find good Italian recipes. I have been cooking for about 2 years using recipes that I find on the internet and I am not always lucky enough to find a recipe of pasta salad.

  13. Simply the Best Pasta Salad, my son who is a pasta connoisseur ask for this at least once a month. I also like to add red bell pepper for even more flavor

  14. I have been looking for this for 3 weeks now and am so glad I found it again, I have saved it and printed it this time. I love all the colors in this salad! My family loves this salad, and it’s super easy to make.

  15. Loved the Recipe ! Italian Pasta is my favorite.Glad I found your website

  16. I have been looking for this for 3 weeks now and am so glad I found it again, I have saved it and printed it this time. I love all the colors in this salad! My family loves this salad, and it’s super easy to make. The recipe for the Italian Pasta Salad you share is great. Delicious and nutritious. I will learn to make this dish.

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  19. Tasty pasta salad! Loved it!

  20. I have never tried pasta in salad. Your recipe intrigues me. But , I wonder if it will work. I feel pasta might leave a trail of starch on your tongue when you bite. Lemme know if I am wrong. Though, worth a try.

  21. I found this recipe last summer. I loved it! I didn’t save it or print it :( Fast forward almost a year and wanted to make it again. I have been looking for this for 3 weeks now and am so glad I found it again!!!! I have saved it and printed it this time!!! Thanks

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  23. The only thing that I changed was to have a couple of pieces of high quality salami sliced a quarter of an inch thick and cube it.
    Over all other than that it was great.

  24. The recipe of Italian Pasta Salad you share is great

  25. How many people does the pasta recipe feed.

  26. wow, delicious and yummy pasta salad its was amazing thanks for sharing this.

  27. AMAZING FLAVOR!!!

  28. The recipe of Italian Pasta Salad you share is great. Delicious and nutritious. I will learn to make this dish.

  29. Would omitting the onion (Some family members don’t like it)change the results much?

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  31. Fantastic, the hard salami was a new twist. Usually I use either pepperoni. Your recipe toned down the taste of pepperoni so that the more subtle salami allowed all the other flavors to come out. Thanks for sharing.  Obviously this will be our new extended family favorite.

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  33. This receive is really good.  I added cucumbers. Be careful with the parsley it’s powerful. I also added a few whole garlic, but I like garlic. It’s best when it’s made a day ahead of time. I think it’s good when I add graded Parmesan. Next time I will shred fresh Parmesan to add at the end. I did omit olives and I only add salami when I’m about to eat it. 

  34. Great pasta salad. Not only does it look fantastic, but it tastes great as well. I made a recipe and a half of the dressing as I didn’t feel the recipe had enough. I also added more Italian seasoning, but otherwise just the way it was is great.

  35. One of the best pasta salads I’ve ever tasted or made. I omitted the olives and only added 8oz. of mini mozzarella balls, but the dish turned out great. Can’t wait to try out more of your recipes!

  36. Made it yesterday and serving it with open face steak sandwiches and it is perfect. It is THE best pasta salad I’ve ever tasted. The homemade vinaigrette is delicious. Thank you for sharing. One note, quality black olives really makes a difference. I typically don’t care for black olives, but shopped for a more “expensive”/quality black olive and was pleased with the brand I chose (Lindsay Naturals Sliced Olives @ WalMart).

  37. This is very good, it will be on my saved recipes list.

  38. This really is the best italian pasta salad I’ve ever had. I love italian pasta salad and these flavors are the perfect combination. I added 2 cups of mixed greens to mine. YUM!!!

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  40. This is one of our go to recipes for picnics! Everyone loves it!

  41. Delicious pasta recipe!

  42. Such a delicious pasta salad with great flavors. Will definitely make again.

  43. This is a must make for every cookout! I always get requests to make this salad.

  44. Do you have more Grandma Mo recipes? Is there a cookbook?

  45. This stole the show at our potluck. Everyone loves it!

  46. All my favorite pasta salad ingredients in every bite! A winner!

  47. The best pasta salad ever! Great dish for a picnic 

  48. This is one of the tastiest pasta salads! It’s super easy & my favorite go-to for BBQ’s & parties!

  49. I love all the color in this salad! My family loves this salad, and it’s super easy to make!

  50. Such a perfect salad! Easy and delish!!

  51. One of our favorite pasta salad recipes. We make this a few times a month now!

  52. wow, the pasta looks delicious. can’t wait to make this Italian pasta

  53. My family absolutely loves this dish. That is tough to pull off with a picky-eater wife and 4 children! Discovered the recipe 7 weeks ago and am going to make batch number 6 today – wow! Have even had 2 of my daughters take it to school for lunch a few times. The only thing I do differently was a request from my son – I do not change anything, but do add 3/4 cup of pepperoni. Amazing. Thanks Sommer!

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  56. Absolutely delicious!!! I’ve made this 2x this week! Can’t get enough!

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  58. This was the best ever

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  64. I made this for a party over the weekend and it really was the best pasta salad recipe. It was soooo good. I wouldn’t (and didn’t) change a thing.

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  67. This is summer perfection…we’re almost there! YAY!

  68. I love Italian salad and I love everything about this homemade vinaigrette!  Such a flavor packed salad for spring :-)

  69. I love a good classic pasta salad! It gives me hope summer is coming!

  70. Love this pizza like pasta salad!

  71. This looks great. Can’t wait to make it.