This pasta salad with Italian dressing is loaded with the ultimate mix of fresh and flavorful ingredients. Plus it's super easy to make: simply cook the pasta, toss everything together and enjoy!
About This Recipe
This recipe is an easy way to make a classic pasta salad with Italian dressing. It's made with a traditional mix of pasta, vegetables, and salami or summer sausage. All of the ingredients are tossed together with your favorite Italian dressing (store bought or homemade).
Light and refreshing, this pasta salad is a tasty meal or side dish for any occasion! Serve it as a quick option for a busy weeknight dinner or make it ahead of time and bring it to a BBQ or picnic this summer.
Make it for a crowd: pasta salad is also a popular choice to make for a crowd because it can be made ahead of time and travels well. You can make a large batch of this recipe by doubling or tripling it (or more). In the recipe at the bottom of the page, click '2x' or '3x' to multiply the recipe automatically.
The full recipe is at the bottom of this page, but here's a quick overview of what you'll need and how to make it:
- 16 ounces rotini pasta
- 1 pound salami or summer sausage
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups thinly sliced and quartered cucumber
- 1 ⅓ cups Italian vinaigrette dressing
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ½ cup black olives, sliced (like kalamata olives)
How to Make Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
Step 1: Cook the Pasta
Cook the rotini pasta according to the package directions until al dente (still slightly firm). Once cooked, drain the pasta and then rinse it with cold water.
Step 2: Make the Pasta Salad
Add all of the ingredients, including the cooked pasta, to a large bowl and stir gently to combine.
Step 3: Serve
Serve cold, optionally topped with fresh chopped parsley. For best flavor, refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
Pasta: rotini pasta (spirals) is the classic choice for pasta salad, but you could use any medium-sized noodle (like penne or bow tie).
Cheese: fresh mozzarella cheese is used in this recipe. You can use any option that your store has: small balls, large balls (cut them in half), or buy a large block and cut it into cubes.
Vegetables: the recipe uses bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion. Feel free to customize the vegetables and amounts that you use depending on what you like.
Olives: black olives (like kalamata olives) or green can be used.
Dressing: use an Italian vinaigrette dressing for this recipe. You can pick your favorite variety from the store — classic, zesty, sweet, etc. Or try making a homemade version.
Frequently Asked Questions
Italian dressing is traditionally best for pasta salad. It's a vinaigrette-style dressing that really brings out the Italian flavors and ingredients of the salad. You can use a store bought version or make your own.
It's recommended to make pasta salad at least 4 hours in advance so that it can chill and marinate in the fridge, which allows the flavors to develop more. If you have time, you can also marinate it overnight.
And if you aren't able to make it ahead of time, it's also OK to serve it immediately.
Pasta salad can be a stand-alone meal or it's a good compliment to meat, fish, or any Italian-inspired main course. It's also a popular choice for picnics or BBQs with a classic hamburger or hot dog.
In the fridge: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 - 5 days.
In the freezer: it's not recommended to freeze this recipe as many of the fresh ingredients will lose their texture when frozen.