Our family is obsessed with this delicious Italian pasta salad recipe – inspired by our favorite antipasto dishes. This pasta salad has it all: fresh veggies, tender pasta and a tangy Italian dressing. It’s both quick and delicious, takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and tastes even better as leftovers the next day.
ITALIAN PASTA SALAD INGREDIENTS
You will need:
- 16 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to instructions on box
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ zucchini, thinly sliced
- ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup black olives, sliced
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup Italian vinaigrette dressing
- lemon juice from 1 lemon
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
DIFFERENT VEGGIES: This is a simple, quick recipe that you can easily customize with any seasonal fresh vegetables that you have on hand. If you want to experiment with different flavors, you could also add in chopped cucumbers or make it with onions, red bell pepper or with broccoli.
ADD MEAT: We have made this salad with salami. You could also make it with mini pepperoni, with shrimp, or with chicken as well.
PASTA: You could change up the type of pasta in this salad. Any kind of pasta with lots of nooks and crannies to hold the dressing, including fusilli, bow ties or penne pasta, would be perfect. Or how about the ever-versatile orzo pasta?
DRESSING: Instead of store-bought Italian dressing, if you have a homemade Italian dressing recipe you prefer, you can use that too.
CHEESE: If you would prefer to replace the regular mozzarella with fresh mozzarella cheese or mini mozzarella balls, they would work just as well.
HOW TO MAKE THIS ITALIAN PASTA SALAD RECIPE
STEP ONE: Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente and still slightly firm. Drain the pasta water and rinse with cold water.
PRO TIP: Rinsing the cooked pasta in cold water after draining is best when doing a cold pasta salad recipe. It stops the cooking process, and it keeps the pasta loose for the salad.
STEP TWO: Add all of the salad ingredients, including the salad dressing – to a large bowl and stir gently to combine.
PRO TIP: Make sure your pasta is fully cooled before adding the other ingredients, or your cheese will start to melt.
STEP THREE: For best flavor, refrigerate for 4 hours before serving. This will allow the acidity in the salad to help the flavors blend together.
HOW TO SERVE
This easy pasta salad recipe is a tasty addition to any meal. We love it with grilled chicken, grilled tilapia, wings, chili dogs or hamburgers. I think you could serve it with just about anything, it’s such a hearty and great side dish.
MAKE AHEAD: If you’re prepping for a big gathering, I love making this classic Italian pasta salad the day before. I think the flavors are even better after they’ve been marinating in the yummy dressing in the fridge overnight.
IN THE FRIDGE: You can keep pasta salad in the fridge for up to five days in an airtight container. So, if the bowl isn’t scraped clean by the end of your meal, don’t fret.
I’m confident you’ll love this zesty Italian pasta salad as much as we do — I hope you enjoy it soon! It only takes a few minutes to prepare and is the perfect side dish for any summer gathering. I often take it to potlucks and backyard barbecues. It’s always a crowd pleaser — and there are rarely leftovers.
You should rinse pasta when using it for pasta salad. It stops the pasta from cooking and prevents it from sticking together.
This great pasta salad is best made the day before. The next day, it will have had time to soak up some of the extra dressing and the salad will be extra flavorful.
If you have a favorite recipe for homemade Italian dressing, you are more than welcome to use that instead.
MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie
- No Bake Strawberry Jello Pie
- Banana Pudding Cake
- Blueberry Cobbler
- Banana Split Cake
Italian Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces rotini pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 zucchini thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red onion thiny sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese cubed
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- 1 cup Italian vinaigrette dressing
- 1 lemon juiced
- Cook the rotini pasta according to the package directions until al dente and still slightly firm. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir gently to combine.
- For best flavor, refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.