Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Meet your new summer bestie:

A stupidly easy pasta salad with pasta, juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion, salami, olives, herbs, and a drench of quick homemade dressing.

Pasta salad in bowl with spoons.

If you want to know what I’ve eaten for 4 of my last 5 meals, it’s THIS SUMMER ESSENTIAL. We are kind of having a moment here.

Let’s have a moment together, shall we?

In This Post: Everything You Need For Easy Pasta Salad

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Dry penne noodles in a bowl.

In my mind, a nice classic pasta salad serves one of two scenarios:

  • Attending a picnic, potluck, or other end-of-summer-everyone-bring-something type party;
  • Addressing the leftover meat, cheese, and vegetables in my fridge and making them into a meal that I pretty much want to eat 24/7.

This pasta salad will do both for ya.

Pasta salad being mixed with spoons.

Ingredients For This Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Do you have two and a half seconds? Cool.

You will need:

  • Your favorite pasta noodle shape
  • Cherry tomatoes (or some other non-threatening veg)
  • Mozz cheese balls
  • Salami (pick a good spicy one)
  • Olives
  • Pepperoncini (optional…sort of)
  • Red onion and parsley

For the pasta, pick one with good solid texture and shape to absorb all the sauce. I like rotini. (Also, DeLallo! It’s our favorite. The semi-rough texture is unrivaled for sauce-soakage. I get mine at Target or Cub Foods.)

What About The Pasta Salad Dressing?

Thank you for asking. This is important.

We need a tangy Italian dressing. Here are our ingredients.

  • olive oil
  • white vinegar
  • salt and pepp
  • dried oregano and basil
  • little bit of sugar
  • fresh herbs (like parsley, more basil, or chives)

Homemade, in a blender or food processor, so it takes approximately 60 seconds. You made that dressing, you pasta salad boss, you. ♡

Ingredients for pasta salad in bowls.
Italian dressing for pasta salad in jar.

How To Make Your Pasta Salad Dreams Come True

Okay, it’s summer, so you know we’re not spending all day in the kitchen. We’re bringing this beauty to share with friends, family, neighbors, post office workers, daycare providers, pretty much whoever can get their hands on a fork stat. Let’s make pasta salad!

  1. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse. Allow it to cool slightly and toss a bit of olive oil in there.
  2. Blitz up your dressing in a blender or shake it up in a jar.
  3. Toss together, taste and adjust, and exercise every self-control muscle in your body so as not to eat the whole thing before everyone comes over.
Pasta salad in serving bowl.

May I offer one last tidbit of advice? You do not need to wait to be invited to a picnic or potluck to get some pasta salad magic in your life.

This is a weeknight’s dream meal.

Stop at the store on the way home and pick up some good salami and cheese, some olives, and a few fresh herbs. Cook up some pasta, toss it all together, and voila. Cold pasta salad + a glass of rose for dinner, and colder pasta salad as leftovers for lunch all week.

I will be over in a flash.

Best Easy Pasta Salad: Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of salt do you recommend?

Please note that the amount written is for COARSE sea salt. If you are using fine table salt, start with 2 teaspoons and add more to taste. The dressing itself will be very salty. Like, too salty for a normal salad. But in this recipe, that’s what we want! That dressing is going to get tossed with an entire pound of plain pasta, as well as a whole lot of fresh unseasoned vegetables, and it will taste delicious once it’s all tossed up.

Can I use other veggies and extras in this pasta salad?

By all means, customize this salad – that’s what it does best! Try adding blanched green beans, fresh spinach, artichokes, red or yellow peppers, chickpeas, etc. for a more veg-forward version. Or different types of cheese (feta? parmesan?), or different shapes of pasta (penne? fusili? maybe even some tortellini?)… the possibilities are endless. I love this salad as-is but I also love its flexibility!

How long will this prepared pasta salad stay good in the fridge?

Keep any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days in a sealed container.

Print
Pasta and colorful veggies mixed together in a bowl.

The Best Easy Pasta Salad


  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 10+ – this yields more than 15 cups

Description

Super easy pasta salad – with pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, pepperoncini, olives, and easy Italian dressing. DANGEROUSLY GOOD.


Ingredients

Units

Pasta Salad Essentials:

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • 1 lb. salami or summer sausage, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini (optional, but do it)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (white vinegar or red wine vinegar work)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (yes, tablespoons – see notes section!)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each dry oregano and dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs if you want! sometimes I add fresh parsley, basil, or chives.

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water for more flavor. Allow to cool slightly and toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
  3. Toss all ingredients together! I like to use about three-fourths of the dressing, and then I save the rest of the dressing to add to my leftovers.
  4. Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I think it actually tastes best the day AFTER you make it.

Equipment

Notes

Please note that the amount written is for COARSE sea salt. If you are using fine table salt, start with 2 teaspoons and add more to taste. The dressing itself will be very salty. Like, too salty for a normal salad. But in this recipe, that’s what we want! That dressing is going to get tossed with an entire pound of plain pasta, as well as a whole lot of fresh unseasoned vegetables, and it will taste delicious once it’s all tossed up.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pasta salad, pasta salad recipe, best pasta salad, potluck recipe, summer recipe

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Try Our Other Pasta Salad Recipes


One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of easy pasta recipes. Check it out!

The post The Best Easy Pasta Salad appeared first on Pinch of Yum.

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