This delicious Italian Pasta Salad Recipe is made with fresh veggies, sliced salami, mozzarella cheese, tender cooked pasta, and homemade Italian dressing. Flavorful and super easy to prepare, this is my favorite pasta salad perfect for potlucks and picnics, or for an easy summer side dish or dinner.
The Best Italian Pasta Salad
Cold pasta salads are one of my favorite ways to stay cool throughout the hot summer months. From this spinach pasta salad with fresh strawberries to this chicken ranch pasta salad, the varieties are limitless. This Italian pasta salad recipe, however, is one of my favorites.
Super easy to prepare, this fresh and delicious pasta salad is loved by everyone – young and old! Easily prepared ahead of time, it is my go-to recipe for potlucks and BBQs as it refrigerates so well and travels easily.
Filled with chopped artichoke hearts, black olives, cherry tomatoes, salami, mozzarella pearls, and fresh spinach, this salad is the perfect combination of salty, creamy, sweet, and savory.
Italian Dressing for Pasta Salad
If you’re short on time or you don’t have all the dressing ingredients needed, feel free to substitute homemade dressing with any of your favorite store-bought dressings including your favorite store-bought Italian dressing. Balsamic vinaigrette and red wine vinaigrette will also work.
All you need are the following 5-ingredients:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh parsley
- Salt + Black pepper
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
- Make the Italian salad dressing: Add all of the ingredients for the dressing to a jar and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine and season with additional salt, pepper, or red wine vinegar, to taste. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. You may make the homemade salad dressing up to one week in advance.
- Prepare the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, cooking just until al dente (approximately 2-3 minutes less than the recommended time). Drain and rinse well with cold water.
- Toss the pasta with the Italian dressing: Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl and toss with the prepared Italian dressing. Set aside.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients: In a separate bowl, toss together the mozzarella balls, salami, spinach, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and black olives.
- Combine and serve: Transfer the salami and veggie mixture to the bowl with the pasta and mix well to combine. Serve or store leftovers in glass containers for easy week-long meal prep.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pasta salad is often made with tri-color pasta noodles, but feel free to use any other pasta shape you prefer. Rotini, penne, farfalle (bowtie), tortellini, or even macaroni pasta are just a few of my personal favorites.
Diced red pepper
Pepperoni instead of the salami
Green bell pepper
Pasta salad is one of those recipes that does really well when it’s made ahead of time – up to 24 hours in advance. I like to prepare all of the ingredients and keep them separate from each other, then a couple of hours before I plan to serve the salad, I’ll toss everything together, cover it, and transfer it to the refrigerator, allowing all the flavors to mix and mingle. Be sure to add the fresh spinach just before serving to keep it fresh and crisp. Keep the cooked pasta stored separately. If the pasta clump together, simply rinse with warm water and drain well before mixing with the remaining ingredients.
No. I do not recommend freezing leftovers.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few of my trusty tips and tricks to make the very best cold summer salad.
- Chop your vegetables so that they are small and approximately equal in size. This makes for the easiest eating This is not meant to be a hot salad. This is a cold(ish) salad and it will taste best when served that way.
- Let things marinate. This amazing Italian pasta salad tastes best after it’s allowed to rest for a good 10 minutes or so. Nothing crazy. Too much longer and I would recommend that you wait to add the spinach until just before serving. But just enough time to allow the dressing to soak in with the noodles and veggies.
How to Serve
I like to serve this Italian pasta salad cold, however, it may also be enjoyed warm, too.
My favorite recipes to serve alongside this dish include my favorite Greek marinated chicken or grilled veggie skewers. I’ll often pair it with a fruit salad or fresh fruit popsicles for a little something sweet.
Have you tried making this Italian Pasta Salad Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
For the Italian Dressing
For the Pasta Salad
- 1 pound fusilli pasta - cooked to al dente (may also use rotini pasta or bowtie pasta)
- 16 ounces mozzarella balls - drained and sliced in half
- 6 ounces salami - sliced and quartered
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach - (or arugula)
- 15 ounces cherry tomatoes - halved (or grape tomatoes)
- 1 (15 ounce) can artichoke hearts - drained and chopped
- 1 (6.5 ounce) can black olives - drained and chopped
- Prepare the Dressing- Add all ingredients for the dressing (olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning, parsley, salt, and pepper) to a jar and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine and season with additional salt, pepper, or red wine vinegar to taste. Set aside.
- Prepare the Pasta- Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package instructions and cook just until al dente. Drain and rinse well with cool water. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and toss with the prepared Italian dressing.
- In a separate bowl toss together the mozzarella balls, salami, spinach, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and black olives.
- Combine- Transfer the salami and spinach mixture to the bowl with the pasta and mix well to combine.
- Serve- Serve or store leftovers in glass containers for easy week-long meal prep.
- Spinach does not store well. If you plan to make this ahead of time, wait to add the spinach until just before serving.
- Keep leftovers stored in a sealed air-tight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy within 5 days
- This salad is delicious served warm or cold (but best served cold).
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)