Serve this bright, sweet and tangy Italian pasta salad at your next barbecue. It’s the perfect summer salad filled with veggies, black olives, turkey and cheese, with a homemade Italian dressing so delicious you’ll want to use it on everything!
Italian Pasta Salad
The first heat wave of the summer has arrived. The air conditioner is on full blast, our queen size comforter has been swapped for a quilted coverlet and afternoon baseball games are the background noise of choice. I’m wearing a light cotton dress equipped with sunglasses, cork sandals that match my nude hued toes and a purse stuffed with eco friendly bags for my daily outing to the grocery store. A few spritzes of eau de bug spray is in order to combat the mosquito bites that make my skin bruise and itch for weeks. This quick trip will consist mostly of fruits, vegetables and ingredients that can be served cold.
When the temperatures exceed 85 degrees, I give the oven a break and use the burners sparingly. Making an Italian pasta salad only requires 10 minutes of heat for the noodles to cook which makes it the perfect summer dish to serve. The other advantage to making an Italian pasta salad is the volume it yields – enough to provide plenty of leftovers!
What makes this salad so delicious are the clean and pure flavors of the homemade Italian dressing. It will blow any store bought version out of the water! Nothing compares to freshly homemade everything – we all know that – but it’s even more true when it comes to condiments. Making sauces (like this hoisin sauce I’ve created from scratch) and dressings at home means you are keeping a bevy of processed and artificial ingredients at bay. Not only is it much tastier, it’s also healthier!
Most Italian pasta salads use some sort of pepperoni or salami sausage but since mine is on the lighter side, I’m using just a few slices of turkey deli meat to act as a savory element. I’m also using a mix of mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese to pair with these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes I found at a farmer’s market. The addition of freshly chopped basil and Italian parsley add a nice contrast in color and make this salad oh so fresh, it’s hard not to go back for seconds!
You can serve this salad as a side or a main and it makes a wonderful dish to take to pot lucks and barbecues. Most people are used to tasting pre-made pasta salad that’s been purchased at the deli counter so this is your chance to wow them with the ultimate homemade, brightest, freshest Italian pasta salad they’ve ever tasted!
This Italian pasta salad will keep refrigerated for up to 5-6 days. You might need to adjust the seasoning before serving it the second and third time since pasta has a way of sucking up saltiness.
Other yummy pasta dishes:
- Japanese chilled tomato and tuna spaghetti
- No just another Greek pasta salad
- Cold Asian noodle salad
- Healthier Hawaiian macaroni salad
- Lemon fettuccine with pecorino romano
Did you like this Italian Pasta Salad Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share?Print
Italian Pasta Salad
Bright and refreshing Italian pasta salad tossed in a citrus and herbs vinaigrette. Delicious!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 8 people 1x
- Category: Salads
- Cuisine: American
- 1 pound penne or rotini pasta
- 1/4 pound sliced turkey, chopped (omit for vegan)
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces (omit for vegan)
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
- 1 green, red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (omit for vegan)
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Italian dressing:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or plain rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup (optional)
Ingredients for the homemade Italian dressing:
- Put all the ingredients in a jar, seal and shake until the oil has emulsified. Alternatively, you can whisk the ingredients in a bowl.
Directions for the salad:
- In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad.
- Pour the dressing and toss until all the ingredients are evenly coated.
Season with salt and pepper and serve cold.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 479
- Sugar: 8.1 g
- Sodium: 786.5 mg
- Fat: 18.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 59.4 g
- Fiber: 4.7 g
- Protein: 21.2 g
- Cholesterol: 16.9 mg
Keywords: recipe, side dish, barbecue, pot luck, healthy
I can totally appreciate not wanting to utilize the oven as the temperature get warmer/hotter. We have the same problem with our place. This Italian Pasta Salad recipe totally did the trick. I wanted to have something light, easy to make, and did not heat up my apartment.
Take-aways: I foolishly forgot to get white-wine vinegar and thought white balsamic would be a good substitute. Unfortunately, it didn’t lend the tang I think it needed, so I ended up trying rice vinegar, which actually helped. The maple syrup brought a wonderful warm and sweet after taste we were not expecting. So I wouldn’t recommend leaving that out!
Overall, this is a great addition to any spread. Pot-luck contribution, dinner side, or just dinner on its own.
Thanks for sharing, Caroline!
Thank you Marivic for the tip on using rice vinegar, I’ll add it as an option!