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Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad made with crunchy veggies, fresh mozzarella, tender rotini noodles, and a simple dressing.  This easy pasta salad recipe is deliciously flavorful as is, but also totally flexible- omit the meat, add in your favorite veggies, or sub in different cheeses to your liking.

bowl of Italian Pasta Salad with ingredients in the background

Pasta salad is definitely one of those recipes that I didn’t appreciate until I became an adult.  I’ll never forget the first time I tried it as a kid- we were at a family reunion and I saw a big bowl of pasta mixed with veggies and other ingredients.  I was a picky eater and decided I would just pick around the veggies to eat only the pasta and hunks of cheese.  Imagine my surprise when I realized the pasta was COLD. 

Now, I’ve come to appreciate this super simple side dish!  It’s the perfect addition to your next BBQ or summertime gathering.  I love how easy pasta salad is- you can customize it to your preferences, make it ahead of time, and pair it with so many other things.

bell peppers, broccoli, pasta, olives, mozzarella, and pepperoni on a cutting board

What’s in This Italian Pasta Salad Recipe?

To make this easy pasta salad, you’ll need the following:

  • rotini noodles (could also use penne or tortellini)
  • broccoli
  • bell peppers (I like to use a variety of colors)
  • black olives (or green)
  • cherry tomatoes (I like the smaller size)
  • mozzarella
  • red onion
  • cucumber
  • pepperoni pieces (or salami)
  • parsley and basil for garnish
  • Italian salad dressing

chopped veggies and cooked noodles in a bowl

How to Make Pasta Salad

This recipe couldn’t be easier- cook the pasta, chop the veggies, toss with dressing!  Here are the basic steps to making this simple pasta salad:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box for al dente.
  2. Rinse the pasta in cold water and add to a large bowl.
  3. Add all vegetables, cheese, meat, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Add salad dressing and toss gently to coat.
  5. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

ceramic blue bowl filled with pasta salad

How Long Does Pasta Salad Last?

This pasta salad recipe is good for up to 5 days in the fridge. I actually think it’s even better the next day after the flavors have time to marinate in the fridge.

Can I Use Different Kinds of Veggies or Cheese?

Absolutely! We always seem to add bell peppers and olives of some kind, but you can throw in whatever you have on hand- spinach, chickpeas, artichokes, etc!  We like to serve ours with mini pepperonis but you could also use diced ham or salami instead.  Sometimes I like to add a generous sprinkling of Parmesan or Romano cheese.

wooden spoon full of pasta salad

Tips for the Best Italian Pasta Salad

Rotini noodles are the perfect shape and texture for making the best Italian pasta salad because they hold up well with all the mix-ins and soak up the sauce.  You could also try penne or tortellini.

The most important step in making this pasta salad recipe is waiting until the pasta is thoroughly cooled before tossing with the other ingredients.  You don’t want mushy veggies!

More Summer Salad Recipes:

ceramic blue bowl filled with pasta salad

Italian Pasta Salad

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 415kcal
Author: Emily Grace

Ingredients

  • 16 oz rotini tricolor or original
  • 1 cup broccoli cleaned and cut into small pieces
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 8 oz can black olives drained and sliced
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes washed and cut in half
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
  • 1 cup English cucumber sliced thinly and quartered
  • 1 cup pepperoni pieces or salami cut (or use 1.5 oz mini pepperoni)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 oz Italian salad dressing
  • fresh basil (optional) chopped for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook pasta, al dente, according to directions on package.
  • Rinse the pasta in cold water and add to a large bowl.
  • Add all vegetables, cheese, meat, salt and pepper to the bowl with pasta. Stir to combine.
  • Add salad dressing and toss gently to coat.
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 1082mg | Potassium: 324mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 800IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @GraceGoodEats or tag #graceandgoodeats!

 

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