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This easy Italian pasta salad recipe has salami, mozzarella cheese, veggies, and fresh herbs with an irresistible homemade dressing! It’s a quick summer staple you’ll have on repeat.

Love Italian-inspired salads? Try my Simple Antipasto Salad next.

a glass bowl with italian pasta salad

Why you’ll love it

This classic Italian pasta salad is the ultimate summer salad. It has a medley of delicious ingredients that work so well together, making each bite a flavor sensation with a variety of textures. It’s popular at potlucks, BBQs, and picnics and is a fantastic make-ahead salad.

My favorite part of this easy pasta salad is the simple homemade dressing. I based it on my copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing since it’s just so tasty and I was very proud of myself with that one! It’s savory with Italian herbs, a touch creamy, and is perfectly balanced.

What you’ll need

For the salad

  • Pasta – I used bowtie pasta, but you can use whatever you’ve got on hand that’s a similar size like penne or rotini
  • Bell peppers – for that satisfying crunch. I chose red and green, but any colors will work.
  • Pepperoncini peppers – you’ll find them in a jar in the pickle aisle. They have a great tangy flavor from the brine.
  • Tomatoes – grape or cherry tomatoes are best for salads
  • Red onion – it’s a less sharp onion variety that’s ideal for eating raw
  • Fresh mozzarella balls – they may be labeled differently depending on your area. I’ve seen “mozzarella pearls”, and here in Canada they’re called “mini mini bocconcini”.
  • Salami – I bought a stick of cervelat salami and cut it into cubes, but you could buy a pack of pre-sliced salami and chop that and add it to the salad. It’ll be delicious either way.
  • Olives – kalamata are my go-to, but regular black olives are fine
  • Basil and parsley – herbs for a burst of freshness
  • Parmesan – this cheese ties the salad together

For the dressing

  • Olive oil and mayo – for the rich base
  • White vinegar and sugar – a touch of tanginess and hint of sugar perfectly balances everything out
  • Italian seasoning – it’s a blend of fragrant dried herbs that you’ll find in a single jar for ease
  • Garlic powder – I can’t resist adding this for another savory layer to the dressing
  • Salt & pepper – it’s important to be generous with pasta salads
ingredients for italian pasta salad in small bowls on a counter

Make ahead tips

  • You can easily make this Italian pasta salad ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Simply assemble all the salad ingredients a couple of hours ahead and store the dressing separately in a jar. When you’re ready to serve it, add the dressing and toss for maximum freshness!
  • It’s meant to feed a crowd and yields a lot of salad, so if you don’t need to make as much, feel free to straight halve all of the ingredients.

How to make Italian pasta salad

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

draining pasta and whisking italian dressing in a bowl

Cook the pasta al dente, drain it, and toss it with a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. Let it cool. Meanwhile, add the dressing ingredients to a small mixing bowl.

assembling italian pasta salad and adding dressing

Whisk together the dressing until combined thoroughly. Chop and prep the rest of the ingredients, and add to a large bowl. Toss with the dressing, and season with salt & pepper. Chill in the fridge if desired and enjoy.

Tools for this recipe

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Substitutions and variations

  • This salad is pretty flexible. Feel free to omit anything that doesn’t take your fancy! However, if you’re changing the dressing, be sure to give it a taste before you add it to the salad in case you need to adjust an ingredient. Our kitchen has tested the dressing thoroughly and feels it’s well balanced.
  • Don’t have any mozzarella? Try using feta or goat cheese instead.
  • If you’ve got some fresh garden herbs, definitely chop those up and throw them in for an additional burst of flavor.

What to serve with Italian pasta salad

Leftovers and storage

  • This cold pasta salad makes great leftovers and will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container, but keep in mind that it might get a bit dry eventually since the pasta soaks up the dressing.
  • If you’re leaving it out more than 2 hours or it’s been in the sun, be sure to eat it right away or discard the rest for food safety reasons.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this or any other pasta salad.
a bowl of italian pasta salad

If you have any questions about this Italian pasta salad recipe or want to leave a review, talk to me in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram and tag me there if you made any of my recipes.

a glass bowl with italian pasta salad
5 from 9 votes

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

This easy Italian pasta salad recipe has salami, mozzarella cheese, veggies, and fresh herbs with an irresistible homemade dressing! It's a quick summer staple you'll have on repeat.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

Salad ingredients:

  • 16 ounces uncooked bowtie pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup little tomatoes (grape, cherry, etc.) cut in halves
  • 8 ounces salami diced
  • 7 ounces mini fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata or black olives pitted
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Boil a large, salted pot of water and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Once it's done, drain it, toss it with a little olive oil (about a teaspoon or so) to stop it from sticking together, and let it cool in a colander.
  • Meanwhile, add the dressing ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together (or add to a jar and shake).
  • Prep the remaining ingredients.
  • Add the cooled pasta to a large salad bowl along with the other ingredients. Pour the dressing over and toss until coated. Taste and season with extra salt & pepper as needed.
  • Serve immediately or chill for a couple hours prior to serving.

Notes

  • Some of the prep time is counted within the cook time since you can prep while the water is coming to a boil/pasta is cooking.
  • This recipe makes quite a lot of pasta salad. Serving size depends on what else it’s served with, if it’s served as main course, etc., but it serves at least 6 as a main course, and up to 10+ if you’re serving it with other dishes. Halve all ingredients if you want a smaller quantity.
  • As with most salads, the ingredients are quite flexible – feel free to sub/omit anything you don’t like/don’t have on hand. You can eyeball many of the ingredients vs. measuring precisely, and many package sizes vary from place to place, so don’t worry. If making subs with the dressing, be sure to taste and adjust as you go along.

Nutrition

Calories: 615kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 38g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 40mg, Sodium: 1097mg, Potassium: 397mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 907IU, Vitamin C: 42mg, Calcium: 177mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

Leave a star rating and comment below!

This recipe was originally published on March 13, 2018. It’s been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!


Hi! Iā€™m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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5 from 9 votes (1 rating without comment)

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18 Comments

  1. Jackie F says:

    5 stars
    Delicious, and I’ve already made it twice this summer. lots of flavor! It can be a side dish or even a main dish meal thanks to the cheese and summer sausage. The recipe calls for a pound of pasta, and with all the additions, it makes a large salad, but it disappeared QUICKLY. Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Natasha says:

      You are very welcome! I’m so happy you love this one!! šŸ˜€ I really appreciate your 5-star review, Jackie.

  2. Carol says:

    5 stars
    My husband has been on my case to make an Italian Pasta Salad and I found your recipe, and this was a BIG HIT for him. The flavors were so good. I made this a day ahead so the flavors could marry some and WOW!! If I could give more than 5 stars I would, thank you thank you.

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s so great to hear!! šŸ˜€ You’re very welcome, Carol!

  3. Jackie Forestieri says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Has all the flavors. You can serve it as a side or main dish. The meat gives it a great flavor.

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks, Jackie! šŸ˜€

  4. Laura says:

    5 stars
    Truly an easy pasta salad that tastes amazing! The dressing is soooo good! As stated under the notes, I didn’t have all the ingredients, however it turned out great! Crowd pleaser!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you so much!! šŸ˜€ I’m thrilled it was a hit, Laura.

  5. Erin says:

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious! Dressing was so yummy

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m thrilled you liked it, Erin! Thanks for your review. šŸ˜€

  6. Mia T says:

    5 stars
    Just made this salad and substituted pepperoni for the salami. It’s delicious! My previous comment was meant to have start five stars but I can’t change it.

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it!! šŸ™‚ Thanks for your review!

  7. jer says:

    5 stars
    Yum! Delicious – perfect for a hot summer day!

    1. Natasha says:

      So happy you enjoyed it!! šŸ™‚

  8. Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says:

    5 stars
    Beautiful Natasha! It would be awesome even without the pasta!

    1. Natasha says:

      Aw thanks!!

  9. Tieghan Gerard says:

    Wow this is really making me crave some warm weather. This looks so delicious Natasha!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks so much!