This easy Italian pasta salad recipe is the perfect summer side dish that takes very little time and effort. It’s such a classic side dish that is so light and refreshing!

This is the perfect make-ahead recipe that’s ideal for picnics, potlucks and cookouts.

italian pasta salad served in a white bowl
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In St. Louis, I’ve grown up loving all things Italian. It’s definitely my favorite! Truthfully, it was those delicious Italian flavors that even became the first type of green salad I finally came to enjoy in my mid-twenties.

I’ve integrated my favorite Italian Dressing and favorite Italian Salad into this easy, full of flavor Italian Pasta Salad recipe. We love pasta salad in our house, especially in the summer!

It’s the perfect side dish for BBQs, picnics, potlucks and more. We love pasta salad for lunch, too!

In fact, I’ve got an entire post dedicated to rounding up all the reader-fave easy pasta salad recipes around here. Don’t miss it– you’ll want to pin and save it for later!

Like most of my pasta salad recipes, it’s light – no heavy mayo here, just an incredible (and incredibly easy) red wine vinaigrette.

A bowl of Italian pasta salad mixed with diced tomatoes, onions, and a light dressing.

Why You’ll Love this Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Bursting with zesty Italian flavor
  • So easy to make
  • One of the best Pulled Pork Sides
  • Keeps well
  • Make it ahead
  • A huge crowd pleaser

Pasta salad is one of my favorite BBQ Sides – don’t skip this complete guide to help you plan your next cookout!

Ingredients

  • Pasta – I made this pasta salad with rotini, but you can use your favorite pasta shape. Farfalle, orecchiette and fusilli all work well. You can also use a whole grain pasta if you prefer.
  • Olive Oil – Use a good quality olive oil for the dressing. I like to use an extra virgin olive oil that has a brighter flavor.
  • Red Wine Vinegar – The vinegar adds a great tang of acid and a bold fruity flavor to the dressing. You can also make this recipe with cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Salt and Pepper – A little seasoning helps to bring all of the flavors alive!
  • Artichoke Hearts – Use canned artichoke hearts that aren’t marinated. Be sure to drain them well and remove the stems.
  • Red Onion – Unlike white onion, red onion has a milder flavor and can easily eaten raw. Dice it finely so that it’s not overpowering.
  • Diced Pimentos – These sweet red peppers aren’t spicy and add a wonderful flavor to the salad.
  • Grated Parmesan – I like to toss the salad in freshly grated parmesan for a savory finish. You can make this pasta salad vegan and dairy-free by omitting this.
Italian pasta salad dressing being poured over the salad ingredients

Variations and Optional Additions

This Italian pasta salad is pretty perfect as it is, but you can easily turn this side into a main by adding some protein. Try it with:

How to Make

This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is quick and easy, with just 15 minutes hands on time.

  1. Prep – Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and drain and set to one side.
  2. Combine – Mix together the dressing ingredients.
  3. Make – Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss with freshly grated parmesan.
Italian pasta salad ingredients prior to being mixed in a white bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Make Italian Pasta Salad Ahead Of Time?

Yes! This is such a great make ahead side! Because there is no mayo in this recipe, it will keep well, covered in the fridge, for up to 4 days. It travels well, so it’s perfect to take on picnics or to a potluck.
It’s actually good to let this pasta salad sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the dressing to really soak into your pasta.

How Should You Cook Your Pasta For A Salad?

Your pasta should always be cooked al dente. If you over cook the pasta it will become very soft and mushy and tricky to toss in the dressing. Allow the pasta to cool before adding it to the other ingredinets.

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Tips

  • Don’t Overcook – Prepare noodles al dente. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy and toss easier. Overcooking your noodles will result in a mushier pasta salad. Nobody wants that!
  • Shock Pasta – After straining noodles, rinse them with cold water to shock them.
  • Cool Pasta – Allow your pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients. 
  • Marinate – The best pasta salads are made in advance to allow the dressing to soak into your bow tie pasta and toppings. This makes it so flavorful!

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – You can leave this pasta salad out for up to two hours during serving.
  • Refrigerate – Store in an airtight container or covered for up to 4 days refrigerated.
Dressing being poured over the Italian pasta salad
An italian pasta salad recipe in a white bowl
5 from 11 votes
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Italian Pasta Salad

Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe – the perfect summer side dish that takes very little time and effort and is light and refreshing!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
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Ingredients  

  • 1 pound noodles {shown with rotini}
  • cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • teaspoon salt
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 14 ounces canned artichoke hearts (not marinated) drained well with stems removed
  • 1/2 cup red onion chopped
  • cup diced pimentos drained
  • cup grated parmesan

Instructions 

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare noodles according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine noodles, artichoke hearts, red onion, pimentos and dressing. Toss with parmesan.
  • Serve or refrigerate.

Julie’s Tips

Substitutions 

  • Pasta – Use the short noodle of your choice!
  • Olive Oil – Can substitute canola oil if needed.
  • Red Wine Vinegar – Substitute with cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Grated Parmesan – Asiago or pecorino cheese also work well.

Optional Additions

Tips

  • Don’t Overcook – Prepare noodles al dente. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy and toss easier. Overcooking your noodles will result in a mushier pasta salad. Nobody wants that!
  • Shock Pasta – After straining noodles, rinse them with cold water to shock them.
  • Cool Pasta – Allow your pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients. 
  • Marinate – The best pasta salads are made in advance to allow the dressing to soak into your bow tie pasta and toppings. This makes it so flavorful!

To Store

Refrigerate – Store in an airtight container or covered for up to 4 days refrigerated.
Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 127mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 199IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    All my favorite pasta salad ingredients in every bite plus I love the simple vinaigrette dressing! Truly delicious!

  2. Question…I know you like to grate your own cheese but on your Italian salad recipe from Rich and Charlie’s (or the Pasta House) you use the already grated parm. Which do you use in this recipe? Thanks!