A Spicy Perspective

The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

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

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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.

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My 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.

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Dressing Ingredients

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

  • Red Wine Vinegar – a rich and full flavored taste of acidic vinegar.
  • Olive Oil – and 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.

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Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Fusilli Pasta – this is the corckscrew shaped pasta, short or long.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – these are sweeter and less acidic than regular tomatoes.
  • Hard Salami – smokey and mildly flavor, it’s the perfect addition to this salad.
  • Roasted Red Peppers – or grilled piquillo peppers
  • Red Onion – for flavor and taste.
  • Italian Parsley – this is the flat leaved parsely with robust flavor.
  • Mini Mozzarella Balls – not only are these cheese balls so cute, they are also so fresh and delicious.
  • Black Olives – this brings a salty and oily flavor to the salad.

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How to Make Italian Pasta

  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.

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Can I Make this 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 Italian Pasta Salad 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.

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What Goes With Pasta Salad?

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

Can I Make Gluten Free Pasta For This Recipe?

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

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See The Recipe Card Below For How To Make The Best Italian Pasta Salad. Enjoy!

More Pasta Salad Recipes:

The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
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4.9 from 49 votes
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The 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:

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

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.
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Sommer Collier

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47 comments on “The Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe”

  1. When looking at recipes you’ve got to ask yourself how legit is it when a primary ingredient is “dried Italian seasoning!” That’s it for me.

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

  3. Best Italian Pasta Salad:  would leaving out the onion  (Some family members don,t like it)change the results much?

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  5. 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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  7. 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. 

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  31. This was the best ever

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

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

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

  43. Love this pizza like pasta salad!

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