Summer starts for me when the summer pasta salad cravings hit and this Italian Pasta Salad is a great way to kick off the start of the season. It has a tangy homemade dressing and all the Italian-inspired ingredients like pepperoni, olives, mozzarella cheese and rotini pasta.
Because it’s almost summer here is a go-to, must-make Italian pasta salad that shall carry us from right now all the way through Labor Day. Every season needs a quintessential dish and I’m pretty sure this summer pasta salad is it for me. And maybe you?
Summer isn’t necessarily my favorite cooking season, but it is my favorite pasta salad-making season and this year I’m craving it even more. Maybe because life seems a little heavy and, well, just a lot lately?
The antidote for me has been pasta tossed with all the Italian-inspired ingredients along with a tangy, bright dressing – it will get you in the summer mood.
How to Make It
First, boil the pasta. I use rotini for this salad because I love how it looks (vain, I know) but it’s also the perfect shape for holding the dressing. Once it’s cooked, drain it and then spread it out on baking sheet to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, finely chopped red onion, minced garlic, a little sugar, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
Now for the fun part. Add all the other ingredients and toss it all together.
- Cooked and cooled rotini
- Fresh mozzarella
- Finely chopped parsley
- Sliced black olives
- Diced ham
- Sliced pepperoncini
- Mini pepperoni
- Grape tomatoes
You can serve this Italian pasta salad at room temperature, but it tastes even better when it has a chance to chill in the fridge. All of the flavors mix and marry together. I usually let it sit out at room temperature for a bit so it’s not ice-cold when I serve it.
A Few More Tips
- I like to add salt to the pasta water so the rotini soaks some of it up while it boils. It just adds a bit more flavor, but it’s optional.
- Mixing the onions with the dressing mellows them out a bit so they aren’t as sharp and, well, too onion-y in the salad.
- For the mozzarella, you can buy a ball and cut it into bite-sized pieces or, if you can find them, use perline which are mini mozzarella balls.
- I adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinch of Yum and it’s very customizable! Feel free to play around with the amount of the add-ins to suit your own tastes.
- For tomatoes, you can use fresh grape tomatoes or jarred sun-dried tomatoes. If you’re feeling industrious roasted grape tomatoes are amazing in this salad and my personal favorite.
- You can make it a day in advance and the leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
This easy pasta salad is good for our summertime souls. I hope you love it!
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This easy Italian Pasta Salad has a tangy homemade dressing and all the Italian-style ingredients like pepperoni, ham, olives, mozzarella cheese and rotini pasta. Make it ahead and the leftovers keep well, too!
- 8 ounces rotini (see note)
For the Dressing
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 finely diced red onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the Salad
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (see note)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces (or use the mini balls)
- 5 ounces pepperoni (see note)
- 1 cup diced ham
- 1 (2.25-oz) canned sliced black olives, drained
- 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the salt and pasta. Boil the pasta according to package instructions (should be about 10ish minutes). When it’s done, drain it and then spread it in an even layer on a sheet pan to cool while you prep the rest of the salad.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk all of the ingredients for the dressing until well combined. Add the cooked pasta and all of the other ingredients and toss it all together until everything is evenly coated in the dressing and well mixed. Garnish with extra parsley.
I usually add one tablespoon of kosher salt to the boiling water for this recipe. It gives the pasta more flavor and most of the salt drains off. It’s optional but highly recommended. Just keep in the mind the nutritional estimate does not include this extra salt as it’s difficult to determine how much is absorbed by the pasta.
For the tomatoes, you can use fresh (as listed in the ingredients) or you can also substitute 2 cups roasted grape tomatoes or 1 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes.
For the pepperoni, I used mini ones but if you can’t find them use the same amount of regular sliced ones but cut them into quarters.
- Category: Salads
- Method: Assemble
- Cuisine: Italian-American
- Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
- Calories: 527
- Sugar: 4.2g
- Sodium: 1115.6mg
- Fat: 0.3g
- Saturated Fat: 10.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 25.7g
- Trans Fat: 0.3g
- Carbohydrates: 27.3g
- Fiber: 2.2g
- Protein: 19.2g
- Cholesterol: 55.4mg
Keywords: Italian-style pasta salad, easy pasta salad recipe, Italian pasta salad
The nutrition information in this recipe is an estimate only and was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.