Zesty Italian Pasta Salad is a light, flavorful side dish that goes perfectly with just about every meal. With a simple ingredient list, it’s easy to personalize by changing the veggies and seasonings.
If there is a cold salad that I could eat all the time, it would be Italian Pasta Salad. The taste is out of this world but it’s also easy to make, a crowd-pleaser, and a real winner for the carb lover!
Yep–that would be me (give me allll the carbs!).
This pasta salad has simple ingredients that you can grab at your local grocery store. If you want to kick up the flavors, try using fresh herbs.
Any way you serve it up, everyone will be asking you to make this side dish again and again!
Tell Me What’s In Zesty Italian Pasta Salad!
Pasta – I love using Rotini for this salad but feel free to substitute your favorite pasta.
Broccoli – if you’re short on time, look for pre-cut broccoli in the produce department. I don’t recommend using frozen because the thawed veggie gets too soggy after sitting in the refrigerator.
Bell Peppers – multi-colored peppers add a festive look to this easy pasta salad.
Mozzarella Cheese – cubes work best here. I buy the blocks and give them a quick chop. Shredded cheese will work in a pinch, but you may want to use a little more to balance out all of the flavors.
Pepperoni – I like using the mini ones because they are less work, convenient (and well, cute!). You can also cut full-size pepperonis into quarters. Salami is another option if you’re not a pepperoni fan.
Zesty Italian Salad Dressing – Feel free to use a creamy version if that’s what you have. Or try my Creamy House Dressing recipe if you prefer a homemade dressing.
Other Ingredients: black olives, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, parsley, basil, salt and pepper.
Tips for Making and Storing
- Pasta salads are much better after they’ve chilled (unless they are meant to be served hot). I recommend chilling for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Leftovers should be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. After that, the cheese starts getting a little soggy and the dressing becomes a little tangier.
- Feel free to add or omit ingredients based on what you have on hand. This is a dish that can be easily customized without compromising the flavor.
- If you’re tight on kitchen storage, you need a colander like this. It’s collapsible, making it a huge space saver, and it fits most sinks.
What Can I Serve Italian Pasta Salad With?
If you are looking for dinner ideas, I highly recommend these tasty main dish meals:
Easy Lunch Ideas:
- Add grilled chicken for a hearty main dish salad.
- Tuna Melt
- Chicken Salad Sandwich
- Sloppy Joes
More Salad Recipes You Should Try:
This recipe has been shared these fab online parties: Weekend Potluck.
Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 16 oz box Rotini
- 1 small head fresh broccoli, (about 1 cup) chopped into small pieces
- 1 large bell pepper , or 1 cup of multi-colored peppers, diced
- 1 8 oz can black olives, drained and sliced
- 1 package cherry tomatoes, halved, about 8 ounces
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
- ½ cup red onion, finely diced
- 1 cup English cucumber, quartered & sliced thinly
- 1 5 oz mini pepperoni , or 1 cup quartered pepperoni or salami pieces
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley , plus a little extra for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 16 ounce bottle Zesty Italian Dressing
- Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish if desired
- Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Add drained pasta to a large bowl.
- Add all vegetables, cheese, meat, salt & pepper and stir to combine.
- Add salad dressing and toss to coat well.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
- Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently.