Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Lunch  |  Published Jul 21, 2022  |  Updated Jul 21, 2022  |  By Tawnie

pasta in a bowl with sausage and tomatoes and cheese.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad is always a hit during summertime bbq’s, potlucks and parties.

It’s filled with colorful al-dente rotini pasta, cherry tomatoes, lots of Parmesan cheese and it’s all tossed in a light, zesty, Italian dressing. And it’s just so easy to make!

The mild and buttery Italian green olives, crisp red onion and creamy mozzarella cheese balls swim in the Italian vinaigrette making each bite decadent and bursting with flavor.

Other summer salad favorites include this Chopped Chicken Salad, Healthy Potato Salad, Broccoli Salad, and this Kale Blueberry Salad.

pasta salad ingredients in a large blue bowl.

Ingredients you’ll need:

You’ll need just about 10 ingredients for this easy salad!

ingredients to make pasta salad in small bowls
  • Tri-color rotini: I think this pasta salad is so pretty with the twirly tri-color noodles, but you can use your favorite pasta. Other good options include: bow tie, small shells, or radiatore pasta.
  • Italian dressing: I love a good ol’ store bought zesty Italian dressing, Sir Kensington’s Pepperoncini Italian is really delicious or a homemade dressing if you have a favorite recipe. 1 cup is plenty, or add to taste.
  • Cherry tomatoes (I LOVE cherry tomatoes so I include 2 cups, you may want less).
  • Julienned summer sausage: you can swap this for salami, sliced into strips.
  • Italian green olives: we like the Castelvetrano olives but you can also use black olives or even kalamata if you prefer.
  • Red onion: be sure to finely dice it so you don’t have big chunks of red onion in the salad.
  • Shredded Parmesan: I always, always recommend buying a block and shredding it yourself for best results.
  • Fresh Mozzarella: the pearl mozzarella works great for easy Italian pasta salads, or you can buy a fresh mozzarella log and slice it into cubes.
  • Parsley/basil for garnish
ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad in a large glass bowl.

How to make it:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the rotini pasta until al dente. Typically, 7-9 minutes.
  2. Drain the pasta and be sure to rinse with cold water. This will help to stop the cooking process of the noodles and prevent mushy noodles. Another reason to rinse is to remove some of the starch which sometimes causes the noodles to stick together.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the remaining ingredients.
  4. You can serve right away, but I always love prepping this in advance, so the pasta salad has some time to sit in the fridge to really soak up all of the flavors. Pasta salad will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Pro tip: Having a party? Make it ahead to save time the day of the party! Use that extra time to socialize and be with your friends and family.

pasta in a bowl with sausage and tomatoes and cheese.
pasta in a bowl with sausage and tomatoes and cheese.
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Easy Italian Pasta Salad

A classic and Easy Italian Pasta Salad recipe that is full of color and a reliable side dish to bring to parties, potlucks or gatherings. Plus, who doesn’t love a good pasta salad?!
5 from 4 reviews
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 421kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. tri-color rotini
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I LOVE cherry tomatoes so I include 2 cups, you may want less)
  • 1 cup summer sausage, julienned
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 1/2 cup Italian green olives (Castelvetrano)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup sliced peperoncini (optional)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 cup Italian dressing, or added to taste
  • Parsley/Basil for garnish

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the rotini pasta until al dente. Typically, 7-9 minutes. Drain the pasta and be sure to rinse with cold water.
  • In a large bowl, combine the pasta with all the pasta salad ingredients. (Stir in the dressing last). You can serve right away, but I always love prepping this in advance, so the pasta salad has some time to sit in the fridge to really soak up all the flavors.
  • When ready to enjoy, garnish with fresh parsley or basil and serve cold.

Video

Notes

  • Pasta salad will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 937mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 281IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 1mg

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4 Comments
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24 days ago

Wondering how many calories would this recipe contain?

Colleen MacBride
1 month ago

What kind of Italian dressing do you use? I feel that is what can really change the flavor of pasta salad. Thanks!

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