Pasta salad is a summer cookout classic, but if you’re tired of the same old mayo-laden macaroni salad, try this lighter, more flavorful Italian pasta salad.
With loads of salami, provolone, juicy cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini, and a tangy, creamy-but-not-heavy Italian dressing, it’s an easy summer side that’s also great for lunches!
This Italian pasta salad is a meal prep staple in our house. It keeps well for days and I like to make a big batch and portion it out for lunches throughout the week.
Although we usually like a lot of variety in our meals (well except for the 3-year-old who could live on peanut butter alone), this is one of those salads we never seem to tire of.
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It’s tangy, super flavorful and full of fun textures. It’s great as a side, but with some chopped romaine tossed in, it also makes a great main course salad.
Here’s how I make it!
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
Make the Dressing
1. Using an immersion blender, or just a whisk, blend together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mayo, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Cook the pasta noodles according to the package directions, and drain. Rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking. We prefer short noodles like penne or rotini, but use what you like!
3. Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes, thinly slice the red onion, chop the parsley, salami and provolone (mozzarella or bocconcini works too!).
4. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the vegetables, meat and cheese.
5. Add dressing to taste, and toss to combine. The recipe makes 1 1/4 cups of dressing and I usually use about 1 cup. I would start with 3/4 cup and add more to taste.
I like to let this salad marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Sound good to you? If you make this Italian pasta salad, I would be thrilled and honored if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
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More Easy Pasta Salads
Italian Pasta Salad
Italian Pasta salad is packed with good stuff like salami, provolone, and mild and tangy pepperoncini, and dressed in a creamy Italian dressing. Perfect for cookouts and lunches.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed (from about 1 lemon)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 lb pasta shapes such as penne or rotini
- 1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 6 pepperoncini peppers thinly sliced
- 3 oz sliced salami or pepperoni, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 oz sliced provolone cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
Using an immersion blender or a bowl and whisk, blend together the lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, sugar, and mayo.
Slowly drizzle in the oil while blending or whisking until dressing is creamy and emulsified. Set aside
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large salad bowl or mixing bowl.
Add the onions, tomatoes, peppers, salami, provolone and parsley to the pasta, pour 1/2 the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste.
This recipe makes 1 1/4 cups of dressing. We usually use about 1 cup to dress the salad, but you can add more or less to taste.
If you can't find provolone, try substituting mozzarella or bocconcini.
Letting the salad sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving is optional but I find it helps to meld and mellow out the flavors.