Perfect Pasta Salad: Uncover the Best Recipe Ever

This pasta salad recipe is not only flavorful and fresh, but also incredibly easy and quick to prepare. It’s the ideal choice for picnic outings.

The dish is incredibly versatile and serves as the perfect medium to showcase fresh seasonal vegetables.

Plus, it offers a great way to use up leftovers. Simply toss in diced chicken, leftover roasted vegetables, or any cheese you have on hand.

The vibrant and flavorful nature of this salad means it is best prepared ahead of time. Preparing a double batch is a brilliant idea.

You can serve it as a side dish at a summer barbecue and reserve a bowl for yourself as a light dinner or for your weekday lunches throughout the week.

Basic Pasta Salad Ingredients

Creating the best pasta salad begins with simple ingredients but can easily be personalized to your taste.

Pasta

You can opt for any medium-sized pasta shape. Top choices include rotini pasta (or tricolor rotini), bow ties, or penne.

Kinds of pasta with holes, ridges, or curls are especially good at absorbing the dressing.

Vegetables

A colorful and crunchy mix of cherry tomatoes, red onion, and olives is fantastic, but the choice depends on you.

Spring peas, corn kernels, sliced radishes, chopped spinach, or sundried tomatoes are some exciting options.

Flavors

Improve the taste of your pasta salad with additions like salami, a handful of pepperoncini, or mozzarella.

Dressing

A light vinaigrette acts as the glue that brings all the flavors together in any pasta salad recipe.

You can either whip up the DIY dressing recipe provided below or opt for a pre-made vinaigrette, Italian or Greek dressing.

Basic Pasta Salad Ingredients
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About Pasta Salad Dressing

This is crucial. We’re seeking a zesty Italian dressing, with absolutely no mayo involved! Let’s take a look at our ingredients.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried oregano and basil
  • A bit of sugar
  • Fresh herbs (like parsley, more basil, or chives)

You’ve created your dressing at home, using a blender or food processor. It typically takes about a minute to prepare. Congratulations, you’re the pasta salad master.

How To Make Pasta Salad

Let’s prepare this delightful dish to share with our friends, family, neighbors, and anyone who can grab a fork quickly.

It’s time to whip up some pasta salad!

Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • 1 pound of pasta uncooked
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 8 ounce mozzarella cheese balls cut in half
  • 1 lb salami cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup kalamata olives sliced
  • ¾ cup pepperoncini
  • ½ cup red onion sliced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley chopped

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp fine table salt
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp parsley

Instructions

Follow the cooking instructions on the pasta package. Once cooked, drain and rinse it. Let it cool down a bit, then toss in a drizzle of olive oil.

Next, prepare all your ingredients. Chop all your vegetables, cheese, meat, and other additions.

Prepare your dressing. You can either mix it in a blender or you can shake it in a jar.

Finally, combine everything. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. It might be challenging but try to resist the urge to devour everything before your guests arrive.

Tips for Perfect Pasta Salad
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Tips for Perfect Pasta Salad

Cooking the pasta until it’s al dente ensures it remains firm even after absorbing the dressing.

Apply the dressing liberally, as the pasta needs to absorb it. To achieve optimal flavor, don’t skimp on the dressing; allow the pasta to soak it up.

Let the pasta salad cool in the refrigerator. You’ll notice the flavor intensifies and is much more enjoyable this way.

Dice the additional ingredients into small pieces. This way, every bite will contain a bit of everything.

Storing Pasta Salad

Prepare this easy summer salad a day earlier and refrigerate it until it’s time to serve!

Store any remaining pasta salad in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Freezing pasta salad isn’t recommended, as pasta doesn’t thaw well.

But no worries, since it’s so simple to prepare, just whip up a new batch when needed!

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Perfect Pasta Salad Recipe

An incredibly simple pasta salad - comprising pasta, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, hot salami, pepperoncini, olives, and a straightforward Italian dressing. It's SO GOOD, IT'S ALMOST DANGEROUS.
Total Time 30 minutes
Calories 398kcal
Author Samantha Miller

Ingredients

Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • 1 pound of pasta uncooked
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 8 ounce mozzarella cheese balls cut in half
  • 1 lb salami cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup kalamata olives sliced
  • ¾ cup pepperoncini
  • ½ cup red onion sliced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley chopped

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp fine table salt
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp parsley

Instructions

  • Follow the cooking instructions on the pasta package. After cooking, drain and rinse the pasta. Let it cool down a bit, then toss in a touch of olive oil.
  • Next, prepare all your ingredients. Chop all your vegetables, cheese, meat, and other additions.
  • Prepare your dressing, You can either mix it in a blender or you can shake it in a jar.
  • Finally, combine everything. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. It might be challenging, but try to resist the urge to devour everything before your guests arrive :).

Notes

You can choose any medium-sized pasta for this recipe. Ensure it's cooked al dente (firm to the bite) as the dressing will further soften the pasta.
To prevent it from overcooking, rinse it under cold water once it's done.
Generously dress the salad because the pasta tends to absorb the dressing.
Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand for this recipe, including any leftover cooked or roasted ones.
Some great additions could be zucchini, peas, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
While they're optional, some delicious extras you could add include ham, bacon, salami, sundried tomatoes, pesto, artichokes, or finely diced broccoli.

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Perfect pasta salad with vegetables and other ingredients
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