Italian Pasta Salad

LAST UPDATED: Jun 15, 2020 | PUBLISHED: Jun 08, 2018 | By:

This easy Italian pasta salad recipe is the perfect summer side dish that takes very little time and effort and is wonderfully light and refreshing! It’s a great make ahead recipe that’s ideal for picnics, potlucks and cookouts.

italian pasta salad served in a white bowl

In St. Louis, I’ve grown up loving all things Italian. It’s definitely my favorite! It’s even the first type of 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 around here, 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 all of my pasta salad recipes, it’s light – no heavy mayo here, just an incredible (and incredibly easy) red wine vinaigrette.

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe Ingredients

  • Pasta – I made this pasta salad with rotini, but you can use your favorite pasta shape. Farfelle, 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 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.

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:

The dressing being poured over the salad ingredinets

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad

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.

Pasta Salad with Italian dressing is light and refreshing, unlike some pasta salads. It makes it the perfect summer side dish that goes with just about anything for your summer soirée.

The ingredients before being mixed

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.

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.

Dressing being poured over the Italian pasta salad

Want more? Receive the best ideas directly to your inbox and connect on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

If you try this recipe, please come back to share using my 5 star rating in the comments below! Not only do I appreciate it, but I know readers do, too! 

pasta salad with italian dressing in a white bowl

More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes

italian pasta salad reci[e

Italian Pasta Salad

Author: Julie Blanner
Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe – the perfect summer side dish that takes very little time and effort and is light and refreshing!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings
Calories 316 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound noodles {shown with rotini}
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 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
  • 1/3 cup diced pimentos drained
  • 1/3 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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Calories:316kcalCarbohydrates:35gProtein:7gFat:16gSaturated Fat:3gCholesterol:3mgSodium:288mgPotassium:127mgFiber:2gSugar:2gVitamin A:199IUVitamin C:6mgCalcium:48mgIron:1mg
5 from 6 votes
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
Disclosure

mini loaves of bread gift wrapped