Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Best Italian Pasta Salad recipe is a loaded pasta salad with all your favorite Italian ingredients, made with a homemade pesto vinaigrette!
We love this “anytime” salad – which means it’s a big party salad and a hit for any season. I love to keep the ingredients on hand for this Best Italian Pasta Salad, made with a pesto-flavored, homemade vinaigrette. You may have already tried our popular Summer Italian Spaghetti Salad Recipe (easy, just buy storebought dressing).
Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
The pasta salad gets even more flavorful as it sits, so we love to make it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
Keep the fresh herbs separate and add just before serving, so they don’t end up in the bottom of the bowl.
Grab the XL Epic Salad bowl – which is our favorite!
Make Best Italian Pasta Salad for others!
We recently helped out friends and made this salad for their family reunion. When I heard they were hosting forty guests, I asked if I could make my delicious pasta salad. We keep tons of Delallo pasta stocked in our pantry, so why not? Of course they said yes, and we were happy to contribute!
There is more to thinking only about ourselves, I’m sure. Paying attention to little acts of kindness around us is key. Just choose one small thing to, wherever you are, and may it bring a soaring love to those around you.
Let’s get started with these ingredients:
Print the full recipe below!
Grab your largest salad bowl and small heirloom tomatoes for our favorite end-of-summer salad.
- Rotini pasta
- Cherry (heirloom) tomatoes
- Mozzarella sticks
- Black olives
- Baby bell peppers
- Red onion
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil + oregano + parsley
How to make the best Italian dressing:
Add pesto to the vinaigrette to make a delicious dressing for this Best Italian Pasta Salad, the perfect party, potluck, or picnic salad! You can buy fresh pesto in the refrigerated section at the market, or keep a jar stashed in your pantry!
- Red wine vinegar
- Pesto (used jarred or fresh from refrigerated section at the market, or make your own pesto)
- Garlic cloves
- Salt + ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Here’s how to make this salad ahead:
- Add the ingredients to a large salad bowl. If you want to buy our favorite “epic” salad bowl, you can, HERE.
- You can also use small Ziploc bags if you choose to keep each ingredient separate.
- Make the dressing and pour into a small jar.
- Refrigerate, and when it’s time to serve, gently mix all ingredients and drizzle with dressing.
- Toss and serve.
This recipe makes a very hearty and satisfying side dish that pairs well with grilled chicken, beef or fish.
It’s also delish for a weeknight main dish!
How to make the pasta salad:
- Boil pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook pasta al dente (usually one minute less) so it is not soggy and soft.
- Cool pasta: Allow pasta to cool for fifteen minutes.
- Prepare fresh ingredients: While the pasta is cooking, chop the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Make homemade vinaigrette: Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour into a bottle with a lid (if you are using later). Don’t forget to shake it well before using.
- Add pasta, and remaining chopped ingredients, to a large salad bowl.
- Toss with vinaigrette: Whisk (or shake) dressing once more, then pour over ingredients. Toss well to evenly coat.
- Chill the salad: This salad can be served right away, but it’s better and more refreshing if you chill it in the fridge for two to three hours before serving.
Tips and substitutions:
- If you’re needing to make this salad in a hurry, you can skip the homemade dressing, but know we feel this dressing really “makes” the salad.
- In place of the fresh dressing use one cup of your favorite store-bought Italian dressing. Just cut back a little on the herbs added if it has a strong herby taste.
- Blitz up your dressing in a blender, or shake it up in a jar.
- Swap out the rotini pasta for your favorite kind of pasta.
- Add pepperoncinis or Kalamata olives in place of black olives.
- If you want to add a kick to the salad, add red pepper flakes.
- Use lemon juice in place of red wine vinegar for a very fresh and lemon-y taste.
- Keep any leftovers in the fridge for two to three days in a sealed container.
Friends, this salad is delicious heated up in the microwave for lunch the next day, or pack in for lunch if you’re heading to work.
More pasta salad recipes to try:
Creamy Caprese Pasta Salad – amazing!
Make this fabulous Greek Pasta Salad
Get the Recipe:
Best Italian Pasta Salad
For the dressing:
- ⅓ c. red wine vinegar
- ¼ c. pesto
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
For the pasta salad:
- 1 lb. rotini pasta, cooked and cooled
- 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small cucumber, chopped
- 2 c. sliced salami, small pieces
- 8 oz. mozzarella sticks, thinly sliced into small pieces
- 1 c. sliced black olives
- 1 ½ c. baby bell peppers, thinly sliced
- ¾ c. diced red onion
- ¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- ½ c. mozzarella cheese, grated
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ c. chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- ¼ c. chopped oregano, plus more for garnish
- ¼ c. chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- For the dressing:
- Whisk together the vinegar, pesto, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the olive oil, whisking constantly until combined. Set aside or, if using later, pour into a jar.
- For the pasta salad:
- Add the cooked pasta to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, salami, mozzarella, olives, bell peppers, onion, Parmesan, salt, basil, and parsley.
- Whisk (or shake the bottle) the dressing once more, then pour it over the salad, stirring to combine.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with more chopped basil, oregano, parsley.