This Italian pasta salad recipe is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that is perfect for any occasion!
Whether you are hosting a summer BBQ or looking for a quick and tasty lunch option, this salad is sure to please!!
With its blend of fresh vegetables, flavorful pasta, and zesty dressing it’s no wonder why Italian pasta salad has become a staple in our household.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at this classic recipe. And I’ll walk you through the steps to create your own delicious Italian pasta salad at home!!
Ingredients in this Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
I love to use penne pasta for my Italian pasta salad recipe! You’ll need 8 ounces penne pasta for this delicious summer salad!
Penne is a great pasta shape to use in pasta salad.
Its tube-like shape allows it to hold onto dressing and other ingredients, ensuring that every bite is flavorful!
The ridges on penne pasta help the dressing adhere to the pasta, enhancing the overall taste and texture of the salad.
Penne pasta also maintains its shape and firmness when mixed with other ingredients, making it a reliable choice for pasta salads.
However, feel free to experiment with different pasta shapes based on your personal preference! There are no rules!!
Vegetables to Use in this Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
The fresh and canned vegetables I use in this easy pasta salad recipe add so much color and flavor!! Greens, reds, oranges, and pops of black and purple all make this pretty salad “almost” too good to eat, lol!!
My favorite fresh vegetables to use in this easy salad recipe are chopped or sliced carrots. I love how carrots add so much crunch and nutrition to this fun summer salad. Carrots add a great orange “pop” to the salad!!
I also love to use fresh green or red bell peppers. Again, these tasty veggies add a nice crunch and beautiful color to this simple side dish.
A small amount of chopped red onion adds zip to the salad! And adds a pretty purple color to the combination of other colors the veggies provide!
Cucumbers add another juicy crunch! I like to use English cucumbers as they don’t have many seeds. English cucumbers are also firmer than regular cucumbers which is good for the texture of this delicious salad!
Another green veggie I like to put in this Italian Pasta Salad recipe is a little fresh broccoli! I buy a small crown of broccoli and shop it up into small pieces.
And a Can of…
Add black olives add a unique flavor to the Italian Pasta Salad recipe! I love black olives!! Not everyone likes black olives though. So I use extra-large canned olives so it’s easy to pick them out if they want to!!
Add a little shredded mozzarella cheese and shredded parmesan cheese to my flavorful pasta salad!
You’ll add a little olive oil to the cooked and cooled pasta. And Italian dressing!!
Dressing for the Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
The easiest way to add dressing to this yummy salad is with a bottle of Wishbone Italian Dressing!! You can use any type of Italian dressing but Wishbone is my fave!!
If you don’t have Italian dressing on hand it’s easy to make your own! You probably already have most of what you’d need in your fridge or pantry!!
You’ll need 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, and salt and pepper to taste!
Making the Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool it down.
Place the cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl. Toss the al dente pasta with a tablespoon olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
Chop up the carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions, and broccoli. Add these chopped veggies to the large bowl of pasta!
Drain the can of black olives and add them to the salad!
Sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan cheese over it all.
Salt and pepper the salad mixture.
Toss the salad gently together!!
Pour over the bottle of Italian dressing and gently stir it all together! Sprinkle more cheese over the top if you’d like!!
Making Homemade Italian Dressing
If you don’t have a bottle of Italian dressing you can make your own!
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Make sure the dressing is well combined.
Pour the Italian dressing over the pasta and vegetable mixture. Toss well to coat all the ingredients with the dressing.
Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
I like to make this wonderful pasta salad a day ahead to allow all the flavors to marinate together!!
Before serving, give the pasta salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve chilled and enjoy!
How to Store Leftover Pasta Salad
Transfer the pasta salad to an airtight container or a covered bowl. Make sure the container is large enough to accommodate the salad without compressing it too much.
Place the container in the refrigerator to keep the pasta salad cool. The refrigerator temperature should be set below 40°F (4°C) to ensure food safety.
If the pasta salad has been dressed with Italian dressing, the flavors will continue to meld and develop over time.
However, the salad may become a bit dry as the pasta absorbs some of the moisture from the dressing. To counteract this, you can drizzle a little extra dressing over the salad before storing or add a splash of olive oil and vinegar when serving leftovers.
Pasta salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Beyond that, the texture of the pasta and the freshness of the vegetables may start to deteriorate.
Before serving leftovers, give the pasta salad a good stir to redistribute the dressing and flavors.
Remember to always use clean utensils when serving from the container. Discard any pasta salad that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Any longer may be a risk for foodborne illness!
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
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- 8 ounces penne pasta
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
- 1/2 cup diced cucumbers
- 1/2 cup diced bell peppers
- 1/4 cup diced red onions
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Homemade Italian Dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool it down.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled penne pasta, carrots, black olives, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onions, basil, and cheeses.
- Add 1/2 cup Italian Dressing or make your own dressing to add! To make your own follow the step below!
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Make sure the dressing is well combined.
- Pour the Italian dressing over the pasta and vegetable mixture. Toss well to coat all the ingredients with the dressing.
- Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Before serving, give the pasta salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Serve chilled and enjoy!