Italian Pasta Salad is the best BBQ side dish! This pasta salad recipe is made with a simple homemade Italian vinaigrette and filled with tender pasta, peppers, tomatoes, olives, and salami.
I’m always down for making a flavorful Italian pasta salad as it’s fresh, full of texture, and ready in minutes! Seriously, not only is it utterly delicious, but it’s perfect for those last-minute BBQ invites where you need something stat.
I’ll admit that I adore creamy salads made with mayo. But there’s something appealing about loading up your plate with wholesome ingredients that won’t widen your waistline! And if you don’t feel like whipping up your own dressing, you can easily buy an Italian one from the grocery store.
I won’t lie – I usually use bowtie pasta for this recipe as it’s just so aesthetic. But you can use virtually anything you have on hand to whip this up. Throw in the salty salami, fresh mozzarella, and tangy black olives, and you’ll quickly see why I pull this recipe out all the time!
Serve this Italian pasta salad as a hearty side dish or go all-out with your portion and have it as a main. Whatever you choose to do, this is a recipe that you’ll be whipping out for meal prep, summertime parties, and everything in between!
Why You’ll Love This Italian Pasta Salad
- It’s an incredibly easy recipe to make
- An easy pasta salad recipe you can whip it up in advance for large gatherings
- It isn’t loaded with mayo (so it’s healthy!)
- The tangy vinaigrette adds tons of flavor
- It’s a perfect side dish for the balmy summer months
- Great choice for summer cookouts and summer picnics
- Made with fresh ingredients
The full printable recipe card with measurements and instructions is found at the bottom of the post.
For the salad
- Farfalle pasta (uncooked)
- Mozzarella cheese
- Black olives
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh parsley
- Red onion
- Green pepper
For the Italian vinaigrette
- Extra virgin olive oil
- White wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Garlic cloves
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian seasoning – Try my homemade Italian seasoning.
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
- Step One: Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Step Two: Drain water and rinse the pasta in cool water and set it aside to cool.
- Step Three: Add mozzarella, black olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, red onion, green pepper, salami, and cooked pasta to a large bowl.
- Step Four: Toss the ingredients to combine.
- Step Five: In a smaller bowl, whisk together the Italian vinaigrette ingredients.
- Step Six: Pour into the pasta salad bowl and toss to cover.
- Step Seven: Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This post contains affiliate links.
This post contains affiliate links.
What to Serve with Italian Pasta Salad
- Sticky Chicken
- Air Fryer Cheez-It Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Wings
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t cook the pasta anything past al dente or it’ll be soggy and mushy when you put the dressing on.
- Cut the ingredients as small as you can for the perfect mixed-up bite.
- You can eat the salad slightly warm, but you can also pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. This makes it perfect for the summer months!
- You’ll want to use bite-sized pasta that mixes well!
- Don’t be tempted to use fresh pasta in this recipe. Dried pasta tends to hold up better in the fridge and it’s far cheaper.
- Don’t forget to salt your pasta water. It’ll season the pasta perfectly and add even more flavor to your dish.
- Believe it or not, this recipe tastes better the next day. For this reason, I’d make it in advance!
Variations and Substitutions
- Although the base recipe is delicious, you can load this salad up with fresh veggies, cold meats, or even seasonal fruit!
- This vinaigrette is completely unbeatable, but you can simplify the recipe with a splash of olive oil or white wine vinegar if you want less zing.
- Fresh herbs are gorgeous in this recipe, and you can also add feta for a tangy flavor!
- Try a different kind of pasta shape like rotini pasta or even tri-color rotini for vibrant color.
- Add more fresh vegetables like red bell pepper, artichoke hearts or grape tomatoes.
- Try mozzarella balls instead of mozzarella cheese.
- Add mini pepperonis or chopped prosciutto in place of the salami.
- Use kalamata olives or even green olives instead of the black olives. If you aren’t a fan of olives, it’s fine to leave them out.
- Try red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead of white wine vinegar to make the tangy Italian dressing.
You can store this Italian pasta salad for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. You can serve it cold or bring it out of the fridge and warm it to room temperature.
Can I Freeze?
Yes! You can freeze this recipe in portioned containers for up to 3 months. Just make sure they’re airtight to prevent your pasta from drying out. If you make the dressing, make sure you freeze this separately in containers to keep everything as fresh as possible.
Can I Make Ahead?
Yes, it’s a great recipe to make ahead because it allows the flavors to blend together better. Wait to add the fresh parsley until you’re ready to serve so it won’t wilt. Make it up to a day in the advance and store, covered, in the fridge. Stir well before serving.
Definitely! You can skip the homemade dressing if you like and use your favorite brand of Italian dressing instead.
Yes, it does. It tastes best served cold. You can keep it out for 2 hours, but after that you should put it in the fridge for food safety purposes.
Of course! Use whatever veggies you have on hand or that you prefer the taste of. I like a good mix of colorful vegetables to make my salad really pop!
Pasta Salad Recipes
- Jalapeno Ranch Pasta Salad
- Creamy Curried Chicken Pasta Salad
- Taco Pasta Salad
- Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
- Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
- Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Salad
- Pizza Pasta Salad
- Tortellini Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Ramen Noodle Salad
Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 package Farfalle pasta 16oz/410g package, uncooked
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1 ½ cups black olives pitted
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- ½ red onion diced
- 1 green pepper chopped
- ½ cup salami cut into quarters
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside to cool.
- Add mozzarella, black olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, red onion, green pepper, salami and cooked pasta to a large bowl. Toss to combine.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together Italian vinaigrette ingredients. Pour into pasta salad bowl and toss to cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.