Pasta salad has forever been my go-to side dish! This version is based on my favorite local Italian chopped salad, which is filled with genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, pepperoncini peppers, olives, lots of dried oregano, and a zesty red wine vinaigrette. This easy-to-make, chilled pasta salad is great for make-ahead lunches, picnics or a simple side dish at your next backyard bash!
Everyone needs a great pasta salad in their recipe repertoire and this one is my go-to! This cool and refreshing salad is a perfect side dish or lunch. If you’re planning on serving it for a party make it the day before and let the flavors marinate overnight.
Ingredients You’ll Need
The best part of this recipe is the ingredients are VERSATILE! Feel free to swap out your preferred cheese or veggies. If you don’t like olives or tomatoes.. feel free to omit them! If you’d like to make this pasta salad vegetarian you can leave out the salami.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Italian Pasta Salad:
- Salad: cooked pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, salami, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, radicchio, red onion, pepperoncini, and olives.
- Dressing: red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, dried oregano, and olive oil.
Recipe Step by Step
Step 1. Make the Dressing
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Then add in the chopped onion. Let this sit for 10 minutes to mellow the flavor of the onion.
Step 2. Toss
Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Step 4. Serve
Taste and season with more salt, pepper, olive oil or vinegar as needed. Divide between bowls and serve.
FAQs & Tips and Tricks:
After the pasta salad ingredients are tossed with the dressing cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld and the pasta to absorb the dressing for a super-flavorful salad.
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Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 lb short-cut pasta like fusilli, rotini, bowtie, etc
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1 English cucumber diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 head radicchio or treviso thinly sliced
- 1/2 c sliced pepperoncini
- 1/2 c sliced olives Castelvetrano, Cerignola, or Kalamata
- 1 can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
- 8 oz mini mozzarella balls drained
- 1/4 lb sliced Genoa salami cut into strips
- 1/4 c red wine vinegar
- 1/4 c lemon juice
- 1/4 c dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 1/2 c olive oil
- Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain it, toss it with some olive oil, and set it aside to cool.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl then add in the chopped red onion. Let the onions marinate in the dressing for ten minutes.
- In a large bowl toss the cooled pasta with the rest of the salad ingredients, the dressing, and a generous pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Taste and season the pasta one last time before serving. After marinating it may need just a little more salt, olive oil, or vinegar. Divide between bowls and serve.
- Pasta: any short cut pasta is great for this salad: like fusilli, rotini, bowtie, macaroni, penne etc.
- Mozzarella: If you can’t find mini mozzarella balls just buy any fresh mozzarella and cube it into small pieces. Sliced provolone or crumbled feta cheese will also work
- Salami: For a vegetarian pasta salad you can omit the salami.
What should you serve with Italian Pasta Salad?
- This pasta salad is a great side dish for a BBQ or picnic. Serve it alongside Oven Roasted BBQ Salmon, Grilled Peel, and Eat Shrimp or Grilled Chicken with Marinated Tomatoes.
Storage and Serving:
- Italian pasta salad will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to four days.