This summertime Zesty Italian Pasta Salad is a light yet satisfying chilled pasta salad made with tender pasta, an assortment of fresh vegetables for added crunch, salami, cheese, and a homemade salad dressing.
Enjoy this easy and flavor-packed salami pasta salad as a hearty main meal or side dish at your next cookout!
We absolutely love easy pasta recipes, they are so easy and go well with all the veggies! From our Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta, to Baked Pepperoni Pasta - there's something for everyone and guaranteed to satisfy even picky eaters. This Zesty Italian Pasta Salad is not an exception!
Why We Love This
- Easy recipe. This pasta salad is a super simple and affordable dish that can be enjoyed as a delicious cold main meal - great for the warmer months!
- Apart from cooking the pasta, there’s no other cooking required for this recipe. While the pasta is on the stovetop, prepare the rest of the salad elements to combine and chill.
- Perfect side dish. This Zesty Italian pasta Salad offers protein, carbs, and fats with a healthy salad dressing - perfect as a well-balanced family meal and a side dish.
- Pasta - Feel free to use your favorite type of pasta such as fusilli, rotini (for some fun use tricolor rotini pasta!), or farfalle. Pasta with little curves for the dressing to get stuck in works the best!
- Cheese - I’ve used mini mozzarella balls that can be added whole or halved.
- Vegetables - These include halved plum or cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, sliced cucumber, black olives (green olives or purple are also tasty options), and diced red bell peppers.
- Salami - Diced into small pieces. You can also use another Italian sausage such as pepperoni or Polish kielbasa.
- Parsley - freshly chopped.
- Zesty dressing - I’ve made my own salad dressing which consists of Dijon mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper, and dried herbs (or use fresh herbs, I used dried thyme and oregano). You can certainly use a grocery store salad dressing instead if you prefer. If fresh parsley is all you have from herbs, it's fine too!
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down where you'll find the recipe card.
Prepare pasta according to package directions (al dente). Add a little salt to your pasta.
Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander and let cool down or even chill in the fridge before stirring with other ingredients. (We are going for a cold salad here).
For faster cooling, arrange pasta on a baking sheet while you cut other ingredients.
Make the dressing. In a mixing jug or mason jar with a lid, combine dressing ingredients and stir/shake well. Let stand (fridge or room temperature) for 15-30 minutes for flavors of the dressing to blend nicely.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients and salami by cutting them and arrange in a large bowl. Add in the pasta and stir in the dressing. Taste for seasoning.
For better flavor, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour. It is however optional.
I love to serve this delicious salad with some sprinkled parmesan cheese on top.
- Although it’s not essential, I highly recommend allowing your assembled pasta salad with salami to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or so that all of the flavors infuse and blend well.
- If you don’t feel like making another batch of salad dressing for leftover pasta salad and you feel that the salad is definitely requiring an additional coating, simply mix in a little mayonnaise or yogurt.
- I suggest adding salt to the pasta water prior to adding the dried uncooked pasta. It makes quite a difference to the taste of the pasta and the dish.
- To prevent the pasta from sticking together after being cooked and drained, add a small amount of olive oil and toss to coat the pasta. You may also want to rinse the cooked pasta with cold running water after it's cooked to stop it from cooking beyond al dente while preparing the other salad elements.
- Make sure that you don’t overcook the pasta. It should be cooked al dente otherwise you risk it becoming a mushy consistency.
Freezing and Storing Instructions
This recipe is the perfect summer pasta salad. You can easily make it ahead and serve it with your favorite summer BBQ dishes. But for better flavor make as much as you'll eat and consume on the same day of making.
Keep the salad in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
For starters, the ingredients used in this pasta salad provide a well balanced meal of protein, carbs, and fats. In addition to that, I’ve made the salad dressing from scratch with wholesome ingredients that don’t contain added processed sugars, high sodium, or artificial preservatives.
No, it isn’t gluten-free as I’ve used regular pasta that contains wheat. Use gluten-free pasta if you want this pasta salad to be suited to your dietary needs.
Absolutely! You’ll just need to omit the salami for a vegetarian version of this pasta salad.
I deliberately make the salad dressing before preparing the fresh vegetables and cheese so that it has time to chill in the fridge. The reason to chill the dressing is to allow all of the flavors to infuse well for a better-tasting pasta salad. I don’t suggest skipping this step. Chilling the fully assembled pasta salad is more of an optional step but still well worth it for the same reasons. If you’re in a rush though then you can simply serve the pasta salad straight after assembling.
Thank you so much for reading on how to make Zesty Italian pasta salad recipe! Please feel free to comment with any questions you may have! I love reading your feedback.
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Zesty Italian Pasta Salad With Salami
For Pasta Salad
- 1 cup mini mozzarella balls whole or halved
- 13 plum or cherry tomatoes I used tri-color, halved
- ½ red onion medium dice
- 1 cup fresh cucumber sliced and seeds removed (I cut the cucumber in half and removed the seeds with a fruit scoop)
- ½ cup black olives green or purple would also taste delicious here
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- 10 oz salami smaller dice (or other Italian sausage, or kielbasa)
- 15 oz pasta fusilli, rotini, farfalle, or any other pasta that has little curves that the dressing gets stuck in
- ½ cup bell pepper diced (red tastes better as it is sweeter and balances the salty flavors well)
Pasta Salad Dressing
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon
- 1 teaspoon Maple syrup
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Prepare pasta according to package directions (al dente). Add a little salt to your pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander and let cool down or even chill in the fridge before stirring with other ingredients. (We are going after a cold salad here).
- For faster cooling, arrange pasta on a baking sheet while you cut other ingredients.
- Make the dressing. In a mixing jug or mason jar with a lid, combine dressing ingredients and stir/shake well. Let stand (fridge or room temperature) for 15-30 minutes for flavors of the dressing to blend nicely.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients and salami by cutting them and arrange in a large bowl. Add in the pasta and stir in the dressing. Taste for seasoning.
- For better flavor, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour. It is however optional.
- I love to serve this delicious salad with some sprinkled parmesan cheese on top.