Italian Pasta Salad with Dressing

Italian Pasta Salad

"We independently review the products we recommend! When you buy through links on, We may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more"

Rotini, spice, and everything nice! These are the perfect ingredients to create this summer-friendly, refreshing, and nutrient-loaded salad. With just a few bell peppers, olives, onions, and cheese, the salad becomes a perfect side to serve with salmon patties, sides for chicken wings, or Asian Rice Pilaf. Italian Pasta salad is vegetarian, and can also be made into a dairy-free, gluten-free version.

Why do I always love making this salad? Because it is easy! No doubt but it is also so loaded with all the good nutrients me and my family needs. It has healthy carbs, minerals like magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus, and a burst of energy-boosting vitamins. If you want to make a simple salad with much lesser ingredients, try making the Red cabbage salad with Walnut. You can also try Greek pasta salad which is a great alternative. They are mostly low-fat, highly nutritious, and easy to prepare.

Italian Pasta Salad recipe

Why like Italian Pasta Salad?

Italian Pasta Salad is an all-time favorite of kids, adults, and children. Here is why.

  • Flavorful- It has a slightly tangy flavor with the crunch of fresh vegetables, the classic cheesy flavor of mozzarella, and the freshness of parsley and basil.
  • Full of nutrition- the fresh vegetables make this salad rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
  • Dairy-free, Vegan- Use tofu instead of mozzarella to make it dairy free and vegan.
  • Gluten-free-. Use Gluten-free Pasta to make it Gluten friendly.
  • Low calorie- Since the salad has low fat and carb content, it is an ideal salad to include in weight loss diets.
  • Best Recipe for potluck partiesItalian pasta salad is a good side for potluck dinners, Bar-B-Cue parties, Independence Day celebration dinners, or just a complete meal on a hot summer afternoon.
  • Make-ahead meal- Italian pasta salad can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving.
Italian Pasta Salad - ready to serve

Ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad with Dressing

For Salad:

  • 1 lb. Boiled rotini pasta
  • 6 ounces of mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces of cubed chicken or beef salami
  • ½ cup diced red capsicum
  • ½ cup diced green capsicum
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ⅓ cup pepperoncini
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Fresh sliced basil leaves

For dressing:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup red wine, white wine, or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano or Italian herb seasoning
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Kosher salt and
  • Black pepper up to taste

Ingredient Notes For Italian Pasta Salad

Make this wonderful Italian Pasta Salad using basic ingredients from your pantry. These include

Rotini Pasta- The short, crew-shaped pasta identifies with the shape and size of chopped vegetables. Do not use any tube-type pasta because the vegetables or dressing ingredients get stuck inside them.

Cheese- Cheese adds to theprotein content of the salad and makes it fulfilling. Although mozzarella or cottage cheese cubes lend the best creamy flavor, you can use tofu or skip the cheese to make salad vegan or dairy free.

Meat- Usually beef salami is the most important ingredient in Italian pasta salad. You can also skip its use to make vegan.

Bell peppers- Use different colors to enhance the appearance and aesthetic appeal of the food.

Other vegetables- Chopped onion, tomato, celery, and olives lend flavor and crunch.

Fresh herbs- Basil and parsley work best, but you can also use mint and coriander.

For dressing

Italian Pasta Salad - vegetables for salad

Olive oil- Extra virgin olive oil is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, but you can also use corn oil or sunflower oil.

Vinegar- Lends the tanginess

Mayonaise and Dijon mustard- Makes the salad creamy and flavorful. Skip mayonnaise if you want to make low-calorie or vegan salad.

Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic, and chili flakes- Work as a seasoning and make the salad spicy and tasty.

How to make the Italian Pasta Salad With Dressing?

Step one- boil the pasta

  • In a saucepan, heat 3 to 4 cups of water until it starts boiling. Add 1 tbsp salt.
  • Add rotini pasta and boil for 6 to 7 minutes until al dente.
  • Turn off the flame and drain the hot water from the pasta. Pour some cold water on the pasta and let it sit in the strainer. This will drain off the excess starch and prevent further cooking.
Italian Pasta Salad - draining off water and starch
  • Pour 1 tsp oil and mix well. This will prevent the pasta from sticking to each other.
  • Allow the pasta to cool well before adding it to the salad bowl.
  • Onion usually has a very strong flavor. To tame it, cut the onions in water and drain after 10 minutes.
  • Use only fresh vegetables to keep your salad crunchy and best-tasting.
  • If you do not have fresh basil, you can use fresh mint.
Italian Pasta Salad - ingredients

Step two- Prepare the Italian Dressing

  • In a mixing jar, Add vinegar and pour in the honey, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard and mix well until all these ingredients form a smooth, creamy emulsion.
Italian Pasta Salad - making dressing for salad
  • Add mixed herbs or Italian seasoning, red chili flakes, kosher salt, crushed and chopped garlic, and black pepper. Mix again.
  • Vigorously whisk while slowly adding the olive oil so that it makes a smooth, creamy emulsion.
  • The dressing is ready.

Step three- preparing the vegetables

  • In a large salad bowl, mix all the chopped vegetables. Add the cheese of your choice, and meat of your choice and mix well with the help of a wooden spoon.
Italian Pasta Salad - ingredients in a bowl

Step four- Assembling and Serving

  • In the salad bowl with vegetables, add the boiled and cooled pasta. Mix well.
  • Pour over the salad dressing and mix to coat all the contents equally.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped basil and parsley.
  • Serve Fresh
Italian Pasta Salad - ready to serve

Expert Tips to Make the Best Italian Pasta Salad

  • Add salt to the water before boiling the pasta.
  • When you have boiled the pasta, let it sit in a strainer to drain all the hot water. Pour a bit of oil and mix well. Allow cooling. This will prevent pasta from becoming sticky and cool pasta will not wilt the fresh vegetables.
  • Use small-sized cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. You won’t need to chop them up.
  • This is a cold salad, so refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • You can also use a store-bought salad dressing, but homemade one tastes great.
  • Never add vegetables along with hot pasta as the heat might cause vegetables to lose their crunch and freshness.
  • Do not overcook or undercook the pasta.

 How to store Italian pasta salad?

  • Italian Pasta Salad is in its best taste and texture when consumed fresh. Even though it remains good to eat when refrigerated, the salad might lose some of its crunch and original flavor.
  • If you have some leftovers, place them in an airtight jar and refrigerate them. The salad remains edible for up to 3 days.
  • Since it is a cold salad, you can eat it straight out of the refrigerator. However, if you desire, warm it up in a microwave for a few seconds or let it sit at room temperature for a while before eating.
Italian Pasta Salad recipe

How to freeze Italian pasta salad?

You can of course freeze the salad and it will remain edible, but the pasta might become sticky, and break apart, and lose its shape and texture when defrosted. Freezing a pasta salad is not usually advised.

If you still want to freeze it, make the salad without pouring over the dressing. Make portions and place them in an airtight container or zip-lock bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

How to make it ahead of time?

The pasta salad is a great make-ahead meal. To make it ahead of time, simply do the following:

  • Boil pasta al dente. Cool it down and refrigerate. (do this ahead of time only if you want to make it the very next day).
  • Cut all the vegetables and mix. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate the bowl.
  • Make the salad dressing in a mixing jar and refrigerate.
  • When you want to serve, simply assemble all the ingredients. This salad is best eaten cold.

Alternative ingredients:

  • Pasta- If you do not have rotini pasta, you can use any other bite-sized one such as fettuccine, farfalle, rigatoni, etc. You can use Chickpeas, Red beans, or white beans too, instead of pasta to make the recipe suitable for the Keto diet.
  • Cheese- you can use Feta cheese, cottage cheese cubes, Gruyere, or Monterey Jack cheese instead of mozzarella. Use tofu as a dairy-free substitute.
  • Meat- If you do not want to use salami, you can use canned tuna or boiled and cubed chicken chunks.
  • Vegetables: You can add as many as you like such as cabbage, carrots, beets, broccoli, baby spinach, mushrooms, corn, etc.

Alternatives To Italian Pasta Salad:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is traditional Italian Dressing?

The Traditional Italian dressing is an emulsion-type, vinaigrette-like dressing used for salads. It usually comprises a fair quantity of oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs (like oregano, thyme, or salt), and spices. It sometimes also has a crushed and chopped clove of garlic or garlic powder. It is used to make the ingredients of the salad more flavorful while keeping the salad fresh for a long time.

Should Pasta Salad be warm or cold?

Salads are normally served chilled or at room temperature. It is especially true with pasta salads because hot pasta tends to break more easily, get soggy, or stick together. Adding various types of vegetables, herbs, and seasonings and a vinaigrette-like dressing enhances the flavor of pasta salad. If you have refrigerated the pasta, you can leave it for a few minutes at room temperature before serving to balance the temperature.

Why is my Pasta Salad slimy?

When your pasta is overcooked, it releases most of its starch which tends to make it stick together or get slimy. If you have not drained the hot water or have let pasta sit in hot water for even 2 minutes, the starch releases and makes it soggy and soft. After boiling the pasta, always rinse it with cold tap water which stops the cooking process and does not let the starch seep out of the pasta. Using a large quantity of salad dressing may also make the pasta salad soggy, sticky, or slimy.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad with Dressing

Adalynn Ward
Potluck parties in blazing hot summer! No needto roast yourself in front of stove heat, because you do not need much toprepare a fantastic Italian Pasta Salad with Dressing. It is excellent, easy tomake, and of course! Refreshing.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 10 persons


For Salad

  • 1 lb Boiled rotini pasta
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces cubed chicken or beefsalami
  • ½ cup diced red capsicum
  • ½ cup diced green capsicum
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • cup pepperoncini
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Fresh sliced basil leaves

For dressing

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup red wine, white wine, orapple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano or Italianherb seasoning
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Kosher salt and Black pepper up to taste

How to Make?

  • In a mixing bowl, add boiled and cooled pasta.
  • Toss in the diced capsicums, tomatoes, onions, olives, mozzarella cheese, salami, parsley, and basil. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  • Whisk the red wine vinegar, honey, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dried herb seasoning, salt, pepper, and chili flakes in a mixing jar.
  • Vigorously whisk while adding the olive oil slowly to form a smooth and well-blended emulsion.
  • Season it as per taste. Drizzle this dressing over the mixed pasta salad and toss well so that all the ingredients get appropriately coated in the sauce. Serve Fresh.


Serving: 1bowlCalories: 635kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 10gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 440mgSugar: 5g
Tried this recipe?Take a Picture and tag us at instagram via @a_healthy_bowl
Hello!! My name is Adalynn I love to eat, travel, and eat some more! I am married to the man of my dreams and have a beautiful little girl whose smiles can brighten anyone’s day!