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Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad is a summer staple and a flavor-packed side dish everyone loves. It's easy to change it up with your favorite ingredients. The tangy herb Italian dressing makes it irresistibly good!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian pasta salad, pasta salad dressing
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chilling time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 1 3/4 cups servings (14 1/2 cups total salad yield)
Calories 443kcal
Author Toni Dash

Ingredients

Pasta:

  • 1 pound Rotini pasta or other bite-size pasta type
  • 2 cups Cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 ounces fresh mini Mozzarella Balls drained
  • 6 ounces Salami slices cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
  • ¾ cup Black Olives (pitted) rinsed and halved, or use sliced olives
  • ½ cup Red Onion diced
  • ½ cup fresh Italian Parsley chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh Basil chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese topping

Pasta Salad Dressing:

  • 1 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • ¼ cup fresh Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta as instructed on the package (do not overcook!). After it has cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water, place the colander in an ice bath (see notes) for a few minutes. It should all be chilled to the touch.
    Drain and set aside to fully cool.
  • While the pasta is cooking...In a large bowl, stir all the salad ingredients together, except for the grated Parmesan. Set aside.
  • For the Dressing: Add all pasta salad dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour 3/4's of the salad dressing (enough to coat the salad ingredients) over pasta salad ingredients and stir until well combined. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving. NOTE: can be made the day before serving.
    Additional salt and pepper may be added after tasting if desired.
  • When serving: toss with the remaining 1/4 of the dressing (if needed or desired), garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.
    NOTE: Extra dressing may be refrigerated to freshen up leftover servings of the salad or used on tossed green salads.

Notes

Total Yields

Dressing: 1 1/4 cups
Pasta Salad: 14 1/2 cups

Pasta cooking time

Cooking time will vary depending on the type of pasta used.

Note on Gluten-Free Pasta

Gluten-free pasta is usually more delicate than regular wheat pasta. When tossing the salad ingredients, do it gently to ensure the pasta holds its shape.
My preferred brand of gluten-free pasta is Tinkyada which is brown rice based. It holds its shape well and has good flavor. 

Making and Ice Bath

For the pasta to have the best texture in the salad AND not soak up all the dressing, dunking it in an ice bath before fully cooling prevents it from becoming sticky. 
To make an ice bath combine equal parts of cold water and ice in a large bowl. Dunk the colander of pasta into the ice bath, swish it around so all the pasta is covered, remove (allow excess water to drain back into the ice bath) and set aside while you make the salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 1050mg | Potassium: 344mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 664IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 2mg