This Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad is a perfect side dish recipe for your summer cookout or BBQ. Full of fresh and bright Italian flavors, lots of mix ins, and a balsamic dressing.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
When it comes to culinary creations, few dishes capture the essence of Italy quite like pasta.
Its versatility and ability to adapt to various flavors and ingredients have made it a beloved staple in Italian cuisine for centuries.
This refreshing twist on the traditional pasta dish combines vibrant flavors, colorful vegetables, and a zesty dressing to create a delicious combination that is perfect for a summer BBQ.
The Italian pasta salad brings together the best of both worlds: the comforting familiarity of pasta and the invigorating freshness of a salad. It offers a satisfying and complete meal that can be enjoyed as a side dish or a standalone meal.
Perfect for picnics, potlucks, or lazy summer afternoons, this salad is a versatile and crowd-pleasing option that is sure to impress.
These are the ingredients you need to make this Italian pasta salad:
- Pasta – Any shape as desired
- Italian Dry Salami – I like to use chunks, which you can get in the deli of your grocery store or in small logs. You can also use the sliced salami if desired.
- Cherry Tomatoes – or grape tomatoes. You can also use larger tomatoes such as Roma and cut them, but they tend to be a little less sweet.
- Olives – I like to use green Castelvetrano green olives, but any variety you like would be great. Consider pimento stuffed olives or kalamata!
- Red Onion
- Roasted Red Pepper
- Artichoke Hearts – I like to use the ones packed in oil in a jar, but frozen also works great. Just thaw and drain if frozen before using.
- Fresh Mozzarella – I like to use the balls, but you can chop up any kind
- Fresh Spinach – arugula would also be great
- Fresh Parsley
- Fresh Basil – the fresh herbs add amazing flavor throughout the pasta, but you can skip them completely if desired
A great thing about this recipe is you can skip anything you do not like or have, and add things that you want to include!
Salad dressing ingredients include:
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Garlic Powder
You can also swap out the dressing for our Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette Salad Dressing!
This is the equipment you need to make this recipe:
- Large Pot
- Mixing Spoon
- Cutting Board
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large Bowl
Cook your pasta until al dente as per package directions.
Drain the pasta, toss with a little olive oil, and chill while preparing the rest of the salad.
Cut all of your mix ins into small pieces as described in the full recipe. Use more or less of any ingredient as desired!
Make your salad dressing by combining the dressing ingredients.
Toss all of the ingredients together and chill at least 30 minutes.
Modifications and Substitutions
Use more or less of any ingredient as desired!
Using prosciutto instead of salami would be a great swap.
Any drier salami, or salami that you like, will work well. Genoa is a great alternative.
Easily make this a vegetarian pasta salad by skipping the salami altogether.
If you make this more than a couple hours in advance, refrigerate the dressing separately from the pasta salad. This way the pasta does not absorb too much of the dressing.
You can also swap out the dressing for our Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette Salad Dressing instead!
There are a lot of options based on what you prefer and have on hand! This pasta salad is made with salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onion,, olives, spinach, artichokes, and roasted red peppers in a balsamic dressing.
For pasta salad, you want to use a shape pasta to make it easy to eat.
Pasta with more ridges will need more dressing to coat, but will also let smaller pieces of ingredients stick within the ridges.
Something like penne, rotini, or farfalle are all great options.
You can, but it is not required.
Rinsing the pasta will remove the extra starches from the outside and help stop it from cooking.
While you never want to do this for a warm pasta dish, this is okay with a cold pasta salad.
You can make pasta salad in advance, but I recommend not adding the dressing until you are ready to serve. If you add the dressing too far in advance, it can be absorbed by the pasta, making the pasta too soft and the salad too dry.
Simply store the dressing separately in the refrigerator instead and toss when ready to serve.
When the pasta is done cooking, rinse it with water to remove the starches.
Antipasto is a term for many different ingredients, which includes cured meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, and brined vegetables.
Yes. In Italy, pasta salad is known as pasta fredda, or “cold pasta.”
More Salad Recipes
Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
- 1 pound pasta any shape of choice
- 4 ounces Italian dry salami or salami of choice, such as Genoa (see note 1) cut into chunks
- ½ cup red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup roasted red peppers chopped
- 8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella balls drained and cut in half (see note 2)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved (see note 3)
- ⅓ cup Castelvetrano olives cut in half (see note 4)
- ⅓ cup artichoke hearts diced (if frozen, thaw and drain first)
- 1 cup fresh spinach or arugula, one large handful
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- olive oil for drizzling pasta
- Heat a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.
- When boiling, salt the water and add the pasta.1 pound pasta
- Cook as per package directions until al dente.
- When the pasta is done, drain and drizzle with a little olive oil. This will help prevent it from sticking.olive oil
- Put the pasta in a large bowl or container and chill in the refrigerator, at least 30 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking and chilling, prepare you mix ins.
Prepare Mix Ins
- Cut your salami into 1/2 inch rounds and cut each round into chunks depending on width.4 ounces Italian dry salami
- Thinly slice your onions.½ cup red onion
- Chop the roasted red peppers.¼ cup roasted red peppers
- Halve the fresh mozzarella balls.8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella balls
- Halve your tomatoes.½ cup cherry tomatoes
- Halve the olives.⅓ cup Castelvetrano olives
- Chop the artichoke hearts.⅓ cup artichoke hearts
- Chop the spinach.1 cup fresh spinach
- Chop the fresh basil and fresh parsley.¼ cup fresh basil, ¼ cup fresh parsley
- Make your dressing in a small bowl by combining the balsamic, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Whisk to combine. Chill until ready to assemble.½ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt
- When within 2 hours of serving, in the large bowl of pasta add the mix ins and salad dressing. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt as desired.
- Pasta salad, or components, should be refrigerated at least 30 minutes before serving. If chilling longer than 2 hours before serving, store the dressing separately so the pasta does not absorb too much liquid.
- I like to buy a chunk of dry salami from the deli counter, which can also be found in small logs. And then I cut them into chunks. You can also use sliced salami if desired.
- Bocconcini mozzarella is a great size that can be cut in half. You can use any ball shape or size, and simply cut or chop into bite sized pieces as desired.
- Grape tomatoes also work well. Larger tomatoes such as Roma can be diced up instead, but they are less sweet.
- Castelvetrano olives are great Sicilian green olives. You can use other olives such as pimento stuffed or kalamata as desired.
- The fresh basil and parsley are optional, however they add great fresh flavors throughout the pasta.