by Olena

Italian Pasta Salad

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Olena Osipov
5 from 8 votes

Healthier Italian Pasta Salad with salami, fresh cheese, veggies and your favorite pasta tossed with delicious Italian dressing for crazy good crowd pleaser year round.

When fresh produce is in season, I also make my tomato pasta salad and healthy pasta salad like a lot.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

Italian pasta salad is one of my favorite cold salads. Fresh mozzarella balls, salami strips, tangy olives, al dente pasta, lots of fresh veggies and herbs tossed with zesty Italian Dressing. Oh, and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan makes this Italian pasta salad recipe complete.

In summer, I make a huge batch of this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing or Italian chopped salad and our entire family devours it for lunch for a few days. I like to bring Italian pasta salad to a potluck, backyard parties and beach picnics. Just like potato salad or quinoa salad, this cold salad keeps and travels well, and everyone just loves pasta and salami.

Ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad

  • Pasta: I used whole grain fusilli. Any short pasta with cavities like macaroni, penne, bow ties is great to “scoop” up the dressing. Gluten free, white or whole grain pasta works.
  • Cheeses: Cubed fresh mozzarella or mini bocconcini is mild tasting not mature cheese. We absolutely love this tomato and mozzarella salad with little cheese balls. Then we sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan and “hello, boldness”.
  • Olives and salami: Zesty and salty, olives and salami add a necessary Italian layer of flavour. Kalamata, green or black olives work. Make sure to buy pitted.
  • Fresh veggies and herbs: A pound of grape or cherry tomatoes is absolutely a must. Their juice makes pasta juicy without many calories. Any colour bell pepper adds a crunch. And don’t forget flat leaf Italian parsley.
  • Italian dressing: Quality extra virgin olive oil, red or white wine vinegar, dried herbs and that’s it! Better than from a bottle, for sure.
Italian Pasta Salad closeup

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad

  • Cook pasta al dente: You want to cook pasta until firm but not too soft because no one likes mushy pasta salad. “Taste and tell” or follow package instructions undercooking by 2 minutes.
  • Shock pasta and let cool: Now you want to stop pasta cooking immediately. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and let cool down. It’s a big “no-no” to mix hot pasta with fresh veggies and cheese.
  • Chop everything into bite size pieces: Halved tomatoes, olives and even cheese will end up in every bite. Same goes for bell pepper and salami.
  • Whisk Italian dressing: Whisk oil, vinegar, and dried herbs and pour over salad. Toss gently but well with large metal spoon.
  • Let salad sit for 30 minutes: Refrigerate salad for best results for a bit, if you can. Flavors will really come together in that half hour.

Serving Suggestions

In my opinion, most pasta salad recipes tastes best cold, including this best ever Italian pasta salad. If eating next day, I like to give it about 20 seconds in a microwave to “melt” the oils.

How to Store and Make Ahead

Store: This Italian noodle salad keeps amazingly well without noodles soaking up the dressing for up to 2 days. I like to warm it up in a microwave for 20 seconds before serving from the fridge.

Make ahead: Refrigerate a bowl with all ingredients (except dressing) and dressing separately while covered for up to 2 days. Combine right before serving.

Italian pasta salad is quite sturdy and resilient. I love it and hope you do too! Would love to hear your feedback in comments below. Cheers. 🙂

More Crowd Pleasing Salad Recipes

Italian Pasta Salad recipe garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese
Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad {Healthier Recipe}

Healthier Italian Pasta Salad with salami, fresh cheese, veggies and your favorite pasta tossed with delicious Italian dressing for crazy good crowd pleaser year round.
5 from 8 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 23 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 285kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 10 oz 4 cups uncooked pasta
  • 1 lb grape or cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • 1 large bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup pitted olives cut in halves
  • 7 oz 1 cup mini bocconcini, cut in halves
  • 4 oz salami cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup red or white onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta as per package instructions in a pot of salted water (prevents sticking and flavors pasta), undercooking by 2 minutes.
  • Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to prevent cooking. Set aside to cool and drain well.
  • In a large salad bowl, add tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, bocconcini, salami, onion, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, dried oregano and basil.
  • Add cooked pasta to the salad bowl, drizzle with dressing and stor gently with large spoon to combine.
  • It is best to let salad chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
  • Bring to a potluck, serve as a lunch, meal prep for a work week or serve with chicken or any grilled meat for dinner.

Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 2-3 days. Do not freeze.

    Reheat: I like to give pasta salad 20 seconds warm up in the microwave to “melt” olive oil.

      Make ahead: Refrigerate all salad ingredients and dressing covered and separately for up to 24 hours. Combine before serving.

        Video

        Notes

        • Pasta: I used whole grain fusilli. Any short pasta with cavities like macaroni, penne, bow ties is great to “scoop” up the dressing. Gluten free, white or whole grain pasta works.
        • Cheeses: Cubed fresh mozzarella or mini bocconcini is mild tasting not mature cheese. We absolutely love this tomato and mozzarella salad with little cheese balls. Then we sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan and “hello, boldness”.
        • Olives and salami: Zesty and salty, olives and salami add a necessary Italian layer of flavour. Kalamata, green or black olives work. Make sure to buy pitted.
        • Fresh veggies and herbs: A pound of grape or cherry tomatoes is absolutely a must. Their juice makes pasta juicy without many calories. Any colour bell pepper adds a crunch. And don’t forget flat leaf Italian parsley.
        • Add pesto: A dollop of pesto in addition or instead of some olive oil to keep pasta salad lighter, would be great!

        Nutrition

        Serving: 1cup | Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 440mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 896IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 1mg
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        olena osipov in the studio

        Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

        My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

        16 comments on “Italian Pasta Salad

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        1. 5 stars
          This is the BEST Italian Pasta Salad!! Lots of raves everytime I make it. I made it tonight for Christmas Eve tomorrow and used Provalone cheese (not smoked). Thank you for the recipe!

        2. 5 stars
          My family really enjoyed this salad (and everything else I’ve made from this website). Thanks, Olena!

        3. Looks yum! Thinking of trying it with the chickpea noodles I get from Barilla and turkey pepperoni!
          Thanks for all of these yummy recipes! I love that many of these are traditional from back home 🙂

        4. Sounds like a great recipe. I make a Greek Pasta Salad which is similar with feta cheese, black olives, veggies (red onions, grated zucchini, peppers, parsley & tomatoes). I will try your recipe as the salami & mozzarella cheese sounds tasty. Stay safe.

        5. 5 stars
          Perfect timing for this spectacular salad, Olena! With summer temperatures rising!… Especially here in Texas :)… Thanks!

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