by Olena

Italian Pasta Salad

by Olena

5 from 5 reviews

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

I will be brave enough to call this pasta salad “healthy”. 🙂

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

Italian pasta salad is one of my favorite cold salads. Fresh mozzarella, salami, olives, pasta, lots of fresh veggies and herbs tossed in zesty Italian vinaigrette. Oh, and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan. 😋

In summer, I make a huge batch and our entire family devours it for lunch for a few days. I like to bring pasta salad to potluck backyard parties and beach picnics. It keeps and travels so well, and everyone just loves pasta and salami.

When fresh produce is in season, I  also make my tomato pasta salad and healthy pasta salad a lot.Italian Pasta Salad with parsley, parmesan cheese, bell pepper and salami closeup

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 or white or any pasta.
  • Cheeses: Cubed fresh mozzarella or mini bocconcini is mild tasting not mature cheese. 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.pasta, olives, salami, cheese and tomatoes in a glass bowl
  • 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.

pouring italian dressing from a glass bowl over Italian Pasta Salad ingredients

  • 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 tastes best cold. If eating next day, I like to give it about 20 seconds in a microwave to “melt” the oils though.

Italian Pasta Salad in white bowl with metal spoon

How to Store and Make Ahead

Store: This pasta 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.

This 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

Print

Italian Pasta Salad

5 from 5 reviews

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

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 23 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stove+Chop
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

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

  1. Cook pasta as per package instructions in a pot of salted water (prevents sticking and flavors pasta), undercooking by 2 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to prevent cooking. Set aside to cool and drain well.
  3. In a large salad bowl, add tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, bocconcini, salami, onion, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, dried oregano and basil.
  5. Add cooked pasta to the salad bowl, drizzle with dressing and stor gently with large spoon to combine.
  6. It is best to let salad chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
  7. 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.

Notes

  • Best pasta to use is short pasta like fusilli, macaroni, bow ties, penne.
  • White, whole wheat or any gluten free pasta is great.
  • I used Kalamata olives. Green or black olives are great as well.
  • Instead of bocconcini, cubed fresh mozzarella cheese works.
  • A dollop of pesto in addition or instead of some olive oil to keep pasta salad lighter, would be great!

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

10 comments on “Italian Pasta Salad

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  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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.

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

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