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Italian Pasta Salad

Review Recipe
overhead shot of Italian Pasta Salad in a bowl
Simple to make, this Italian pasta salad goes great with any meal or get-together, and it will quickly become one of your summer staples!
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Table of Contents
  1. Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

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, and is both quick and delicious.

a close up shot of Italian Pasta Salad in a bowl

Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients

You’ll need:

  • 16 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to instructions on the box
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ of a 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 chopped cucumbers or make it with sweet onions, red bell pepper, or with broccoli.

MEAT: We have made this salad with salami. You could also make it with mini pepperoni, shrimp, or 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.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

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.

rotini pasta cooked in a bowl

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.

Salad ingredients combined in a large bowl

STEP THREE: For the 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, chili dogs, or hamburgers. I think you could serve it with just about anything, it’s such a hearty and great side dish.

For other classic side dishes, check out our macaroni salad, dill pickle pasta salad, chicken bacon ranch pasta salad, and coleslaw recipes.

Storage

MAKE AHEAD: If you’re prepping for a big gathering, you can make this classic Italian pasta salad the day before. 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.

close up shot of Italian Pasta Salad

I’m confident you’ll love this zesty Italian pasta salad as much as we do! 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, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Should you rinse pasta when making pasta salad?

You should rinse pasta when using it for pasta salad. It stops the pasta from cooking and prevents it from sticking together.

Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time?

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.

Can I use homemade Italian dressing rather than store-bought dressing?

If you have a favorite recipe for homemade Italian dressing, you are more than welcome to use that instead.

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overhead shot of Italian Pasta Salad in a bowl

Italian Pasta Salad

5 from 3 votes
Simple to make, this Italian pasta salad goes great with any meal or get-together, and it will quickly become one of your summer staples!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ zucchini, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup red onion, thiny sliced
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup Italian vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • This is a great make-ahead dish for potlucks. Keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days!
  • 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.
  • Make sure your pasta is fully cooled before adding the other ingredients, or your cheese will start to melt.

Nutrition

Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 266IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Rose says

    I rate this recipe 5 star.
    I love any Italian food but more particularly their salads.
    I have no Italian blood in me but I just love their foods.
    My niece is married to an Italian and she always has
    Me around for Italian food as she knows I love it.

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