Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

This fresh, flavorful, zesty Italian pasta salad is loaded with all the favorites – mozzarella, olives, tomatoes, salami, and of course, pasta! It is easy to make and oh so tasty.

This zingy pasta salad is perfect for those warm summer days. Enjoy as a main dish or serve as a side. It makes a great pot luck dish and is sure to please! Try some more divine pasta salads such as: Summer Veggie Pasta Salad, Chicken Caprese Pasta Salad, or Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad.

Italian pasta salad in a white serving dish

Flavorful Pasta Salad

While I love a good green salad, I have to say, pasta salad is where it’s at! This may seem like your basic Italian pasta salad, but I promise you it tastes soooo much better. I’ve added a few key ingredients to really make the flavors pop. I’m talking home grown parsley, shallot, and some freshly ground black pepper. And then of course, there’s the dressing!

This zesty Italian pasta salad comes together in just 25 minutes. While the pasta is boiling/chilling you can prep the remaining ingredients. Toss it all in a big bowl and it’s ready!

If you’re looking for a fresh, flavorful pasta salad to take to a summer BBQ, this is it!! Filling enough to eat as a meal or perfect as a side. Try it and let me know what you think.

Close up of Italian pasta salad recipe in a white serving bowl

Ingredient Tips

DRESSING: Instead of grabbing a generic bottle of salad dressing, I love to use the good stuff. This post isn’t sponsored or anything, I just LOVE Cindy’s Kitchen. These dressings taste fresh and aren’t loaded with a bunch of additives like the shelved kinds.

You will notice a difference in taste depending on the quality of dressing you use, so choose wisely!

SALAMI: Speaking of choosing wisely, grab quality salami as well. I prefer Creminelli, Columbus or Boar’s Head brand if I can find them. 

If you don’t have salami on hand you can always use pepperoni instead. It is in the same “family” of meat types and may be better suited for kids’ tastebuds.

OTHER ADD-INS: To add some variation to your pasta salad, try doing a mix of salami and pepperoni or even ham, add cucumbers, or try different types of olives.

Dry bowtie pasta noodles for italian pasta salad recipe

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad

PASTA: When it comes to choosing the pasta, make sure to grab a short noodle. I generally prefer bowties, rotini, shells or penne for pasta salad. These noodles are easy to eat and hold the dressing better than their longer counterparts.

TOSS & ENJOY: Toss everything together with minced shallot, freshly chopped parsley, coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the dressing. You can enjoy it right away OR store it in the refrigerator overnight. The salad will marinate in the dressing and whoa will it be delicious!

Why do you rinse the pasta with cold water? You should rinse the pasta with cold water because it not only cools the pasta’s temperature down, but it also removes some of that extra starch that comes from boiling pasta.

zesty italian dressing for pasta salad

Tips and Storage

We like to serve this pasta salad as a side, along with:

You can easily make this recipe vegan or vegetarian. For a vegetarian recipe you just need to omit the salami. To make it vegan, omit the salami and cheese, and make sure that the vinaigrette you use is vegan.

Store: Pasta salad will last about 2-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Some people actually prefer letting it sit in the fridge for a day so the flavors can meld together well. Which means not only does this recipe have a decently long shelf life, but it can also be made ahead of time!

Freeze: You can freeze pasta salad really easily. Place the salad in an airtight ziploc bag and remove all the air before placing in the freezer. It will only last 1-2 months. Defrost the pasta in the fridge overnight and bring it to room temperature before serving.

Pasta salad with Italian dressing

For more pasta salad recipes, try:

Did you try this recipe? Leave a ⭐️ rating below and share it on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

This fresh, flavorful zesty Italian pasta salad is loaded with all the favorites - mozzarella, olives, tomatoes, salami, and of course, pasta!
4.69 from 38 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 16 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Calories: 668kcal
Author: Andrea
Print Recipe


  • 1 lb bowties, rotini, shells, or penne
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes - halved
  • 1 (6 oz) can whole olives - halved
  • 8 oz mini mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 oz salami (traditional dry) - cut in thirds or quartered
  • 3 tbsp parsley - chopped
  • 1 small shallot - minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup vinaigrette - your favorite!

Optional Add Ins

  • 1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers - sliced
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichokes - chopped
  • 4 pepperoncini - seeds and stem removed, sliced into thin rings


  • Bring a large stockpot filled 2/3 of the way with water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package's directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Refrigerate while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss with dressing.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.


Serving: 6serving | Calories: 668kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 735mg | Potassium: 445mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 726IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 213mg | Iron: 2mg


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Hi I'm Andrea!

Hotelier turned Food Blogger to help make your life simple, one recipe at a time.

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    1. Hi KM, it is not vinegar in the recipe, but vinaigrette dressing. You can use your favorite. See the photo in the post of the Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette we used.

        1. Yes? I’ve made it with Italian Balsamic and it’s amazing. Making it right now for a party tomorrow.

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks a lot for sharing this zesty italian pasta salad! It tasted amazing and it’s really easy to make! Highly recommended and will surely have this again! Fam really loves it!