This Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing recipe is a delicious make-ahead dish that is perfect for potlucks and parties! The salad is loaded with veggies, pasta, and salami then is mixed together with a zesty, homemade Italian salad dressing!
Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
This quick pasta salad takes just a few minutes to make and is perfect for a family barbecue or as a side dish for a potluck. It is kid-friendly, can be prepped in advance, and is a great way to use up extra veggies in your fridge. The flavors taste just as good as your favorite restaurants, like the popular Olive Garden!
- Pasta – a short pasta will be best for the dressing to stick to. Rotini, fusilli, penne, or farfalle are some of our favorites. However, just about any short pasta will work.
- Salami – adds protein and amazing Italian flavor to the salad.
- Red Onion – gives great texture and an added level of flavor.
- Cucumbers – give a great crunch and add freshness.
- Cherry Tomatoes – we suggest cherry or grape tomatoes as they are best for make-ahead salad and won’t get soggy.
- Bell Pepper – adds color and a crunch to the salad. Yellow, green, or red bell peppers (or a combination of colors) will all work.
- Olives – our recipe uses pitted Kalamata olives, drained and sliced in half. You could also use black olives, or leave them out completely if you don’t like olives!
- Italian Dressing – we use our Homemade Italian Dressing recipe.
Chef’s tip: Chop ingredients into uniform pieces to get all of the flavors in each bite!
How to Make Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
- Cook pasta– Cook your pasta al dente according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain and rinse the pasta under cold water.
- Prepare dressing- combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, and basil in a glass jar or in a bowl. Shake in a mason jar or whisk to combine and set aside.
- Chop vegetables- halve the tomatoes and olives, cube peppers, slice the red onion, and chop cucumbers.
- Chop salami- cut the salami into bite-sized strips.
- Combine- in a large bowl, add the rinsed noodles. Add all of the chopped ingredients.
- Add dressing- add the dressing and mix to combine. Top with fresh herbs like chopped parsley or cilantro, if desired.
- Serve and Enjoy!
Substitutes and Variations-
- Add heat: Use spicy salami if you want to add some heat.
- Different meat: Although salami adds a wonderful Italian flavor to this salad, feel free to substitute it for pepperoni, prosciutto, or ham.
- Vegetarian option: You can easily leave out the meat for a vegetarian salad.
- Add cheese: Add fresh mozzarella or feta cheese if you love cheese!
This recipe is great on its own, but you can also serve it with these crowd favorites:
- Serve with sliders like the Ham and Cheese Sliders or the Philly Cheesesteak Sliders.
- With some Baked Boneless Chicken Thighs for extra protein.
- Add some Homemade Breadsticks or everyone’s favorite the Crispy Italian Bread.
frequently asked questions-
To prevent a soggy pasta salad, cook pasta until al dente- or firm to the bite.
Yes, this salad is perfect to make in advance. Prep your ingredients and dressing up to two days in advance. Keep them covered in the fridge in separate containers and toss them together just before ready to serve.
We do not recommend freezing this salad.
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, they may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
You may definitely use your favorite store-bought dressing for a quicker recipe.
More Salad Recipes:
Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing Recipe
- 10 oz dried pasta uncooked
- 1/2 red onion sliced
- 2 mini cucumbers sliced
- 6 oz hard salami (or genoa) sliced
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olive drained and sliced or halved
- 8 oz cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ bell pepper cut into cubes
- 1 portion italian dressing
- Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients.
- Cut all the vegetables and salami.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse the pasta under cold water.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
- Add the dressing and toss to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.