Italian pasta salad is one of the easiest pasta salads to make!
Simply pouring on the zesty Italian dressing makes the spices perfect and the crunch of onions, sweetness of green peppers and olives as well as the tang of spicy pepperoni, create a pulled together cold pasta dish that is perfect all summer long.
Cold Pasta Salad Recipes
Living in a beach community, there are tons of get together’s all year round. All year round. Something about sun and salt in the air keeps us eating.
Tailgating is almost its own season, but that makes way for summer parties, beach picnics and church pot lucks.
Everyone is always bringing food or asking what to bring and next time you are invited to a food smorgasbord, saddle up with the best Italian pasta salad (and dressing) you can muster up. Plus salads are so easy to incorporate with vegan, vegetarian or even keto friendly options just by adding or taking away a few ingredients.You don’t even have know how to make this cold pasta recipe staple to learn the recipe in mere minutes. This salad recipe so easy that you really just need to to know how to cut, mix and stir!
Personally, I like to use zesty Italian dressing for a nice kick, but feel free to experiment with this side dish. It also pairs well with a creamy base.
Simple Pasta Salad Ingredients
This pasta salad recipe is pretty easy to make and also easily adjustable to include your favorite ingredients, pasta styles or season.
In this recipe, you will find images using Radiatore and Rotini Pasta both so you can see the difference-
Scroll to the bottom for a printable version of this post, including all measurements and instructions, so you can follow along in your kitchen without being on your phone.
Here is what you need to gather to get started:
- Radiatore or Rotini Pasta
- sliced black olives
- green peppers
- grape or cherry tomatoes
- red onion
- zesty Italian dressing
- shredded Parmesan cheese
Best Pastas to Use
Pasta can be kinda personal. You would think that food made from the same basic ingredients would all taste the same but its not true. The texture and shape make a huge difference in how we enjoy our dish. I mean have you ever tried a chicken Alfredo with spaghetti noodles? It’s a bit odd without that bite of fettuccine.
- For this pasta salad, I used radiatore in the article and rotini in the video.
- You can also use rotini pasta, which is super common or really almost any other pasta (some like Orzo) that makes you happy. Traditionally you will find that rotini will be what most people expect.
Make sure after you cook your pasta, you drain and run under cold water to cool the pasta. If you do not cool your pasta all the way before making, it can affect the ingredients on mixing and make the dressings sloppy and running.
Time to create: 20 minutes total if you are counting the cooking of the pasta. Otherwise you can deduct 8-10 minutes from that, making this a super fast meal.
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
Add the chosen pasta to a mixing bowl- making sure its cooked, cooled, and drained well.
Add chopped pepperoni, sliced black olives, green pepper, grape tomatoes, red onion and mix well.
If you like any one of these ingredients a lot, its fine to add extra!
Stir in Zesty Italian dressing and mix well to evenly coat.
Refrigerate pasta salad for at least 1 hour to marinate or overnight if you are able (tastes better!)
Mix well before serving topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.
(this image is my Italian Pasta Salad using Radiatore)
Variations in Dressing
My husband prefers a regular Italian dressing over a “zesty” dressing.
In theory, can use ANY dressing that compliments the flavors of the ingredients, even a creamy based. You may just need to alter the amount of dressing if you change types.
Start with a half a cup and increase as needed.
(this image is my Italian Pasta Salad using Rotini Pasta)
- 8 ounces dry rotini, radiatore (as shown) or macaroni pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
- 3 ounces pepperoni, quartered
- 1 can, 3.8 oz sliced black olives
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 1/2 dry pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion
- 1 cup zesty Italian dressing
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Italian Pasta Salad with Radiatori Pasta
- Add cooked, drained and cooled pasta to a mixing bowl.
- Add quartered pepperoni, black olives, chopped green pepper, halved grape tomatoes and sliced red onion and mix all ingredients together well.
- Stir in zesty Italian dressing and mix again to evenly coat pasta and vegetables.
- Refrigerate Italian Pasta Salad for at least 1 hour to marinate flavors and get cold. Its best to refrigerate overnight if possible for maximum flavor.
- When ready to serve, mix well, taking care to get any dressing that has settled in the bottom of the pasta dish.
- Top with Shredded Parmesan Cheese.
- 8 oz of pasta is approximately 3 cups of pasta total. When you add the vegetables and dressing, you get around 4 to 4.5 cups of Italian Pasta Salad.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 803mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 8g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated with ingredients and serving size and may not be accurate. Please always double check with your own nutritional apps as well.