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This Italian Pasta Salad is what everyone needs in their go-to recipe arsenal for quick and easy recipes ideal for a potluck, picnic or any other summer get-togethers. It’s healthy, it’s fast, super easy to make, delicious and bursting with flavor.
Italian Pasta Salad
I love making pasta salads, especially this Italian Pasta Salad which really is one of my favorite cold pasta salad dishes. Not only is it delicious, but it’s really easy to put together and super simple to make. Even though I love creamy pasta salads, not all pasta salads have to be mayo loaded. Which is why I love a good Italian pasta salad. The dressing is refreshing and loaded with fresh herbs.
While most people only make pasta salads when attending a potluck, picnic or going to some family/friend gathering, I think they are great for a weekday meal. They make a perfect lunch or dinner. Not to mention the leftovers, because you will have lots of leftovers. But don’t worry, this pasta is even better the next day.
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients
Probably all of you have your own favorites for a great Italian pasta salads, some of which are a must. Here’s what you’ll need for my recipe:
Italian pasta salad dressing ingredients:
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Olive Oil
- White Wine Vinegar
- Lemon Juice
- Salt & Pepper
Pasta Salad Ingredients:
- Pasta such as penne, elbow, fusilli or rotini
- Bell peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Spicy Salami
- Red Onion
- Monterey Jack Cheese
- Kalamata Olives
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is one of the easiest pasta salads you can make. First cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water according to package instructions. Next make the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Chop the rest of the ingredients, pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss everything together well.
That’s all there really is to it. This salad will last in the fridge for 2 to 3 days and it’s even better the next day! I would recommend refrigerating it for at least an hour before serving.
Tips for Making the Perfect Italian Pasta Salad
Choose the right pasta and cook it properly. Use bite-size pasta such as penne, rotini, fusilli, farfalle, small shells, or even elbow macaroni. For 1 pound of pasta cook it in 1 gallon of boiling water seasoned with at least 2 tablespoons of salt. Cook it until tender and when it’s done, drain it, but do not rinse it.
Load it with lots of veggies and salami. You want about 2 pounds of main ingredients. Choose good Italian salami, like Genoa salami and mix it up with both mild and spicy salami. The spicy salami will add a great kick to the pasta salad. Load it up with veggies such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and good olives. You could even mix it up a bit by adding veggies like asparagus, or snow peas, even zucchini and broccoli. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different veggies.
Load your pasta salad with fresh herbs and onion. Go with lots of fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano, and basil. While dried herbs work as well, nothing beats fresh herbs. As far as onions go, while I chose red onion, green onions are great as well.
Dress it up! For all this pasta salad, you’ll need about a cup of dressing. For best results, use a mild white wine vinegar, rice vinegar or lemon juice. I don’t recommend balsamic vinegar as it will turn the pasta brown.
CRAVING MORE DELICIOUS SALADS? TRY THESE:
- Mexican Chicken and Rice Salad
- Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Mediterranean Couscous Salad
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Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta such as penne, elbow, fusilli or rotini
- 1 large green bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half or quartered
- 8 oz salami thickly sliced or cut in small pieces
- 8 oz bocconcini mini, or cut in half or quarters if using regular size bocconcini
- 1/2 medium red onion finely chopped
- 8 oz spicy salami thickly sliced or cut in small pieces
- 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese cut in small cubes
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
- 2 tbsp oregano fresh, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
- 2 tbsp basil fresh, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper or to taste
- Cook pasta: Cook the pasta according to the package directions. For 1 lb of pasta you will need about 2 gallons of liquid, also make sure to salt your water well, at least 2 tbsp of salt. After you drain the pasta do not rinse it, if anything add a little olive oil to it to prevent it from sticking together.
- Combine salad ingredients: Toss all the pasta salad ingredients together.
- Prepare salad dressing: In a small bowl or jar add all the dressing together and whisk well. If using a jar, put the lid on and close it, then shake well. You want the dressing to emulsify a little bit, this will ensure the pasta will absorb the dressing.
- Toss and serve: Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss well. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Cheese: I used mini bocconcini, but regular mozzarella cut in cubes can be used as well. Another alternative to Monterey Jack cheese could be a marble jack cheese, or a sharp cheddar cheese.
- Leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. This salad is even better the next day.
- Nutrition: This salad will yield about 15 cups, so nutritional information is based on a little over a cup per serving. Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.