The BEST Pasta Salad

Introducing your ultimate summer companion: an incredibly simple yet utterly delicious Italian pasta salad. This dish is a delightful mix of rotini pasta, ripe tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella, crisp red onion, savory salami, tangy olives, aromatic herbs, all generously coated in a homemade Italian dressing. It’s the kind of meal you find yourself craving again and again.

To give you an idea of just how irresistible this salad is, it’s been my go-to meal for 4 of my last 5 meals. Yes, we’re in the midst of a serious love affair with this dish.

In my view, a classic pasta salad like this one fits perfectly into two situations:

  1. It’s the ideal contribution for a picnic, potluck, or any casual, bring-a-dish summer gathering.
  2. It’s a fantastic way to utilize leftover meats, cheeses, and vegetables from your fridge, transforming them into a meal that’s so good, you’d happily eat it all day, every day.

This pasta salad is incredibly versatile and accommodating. Here are my favorite ingredients to mix in:

  • Spicy, high-quality salami.
  • A variety of delicious cheeses.
  • Juicy tomatoes or other approachable veggies.
  • Some greens, even if it’s just a handful of fresh parsley.
  • A mix of olives, red onions, and pepperoncini for that extra zing.

The beauty of this salad lies in its flexibility, allowing you to adjust the ingredients to suit your taste or what you have on hand.


Pasta Salad Essentials:

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta – I like rotini!
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • 1 lb. salami or summer sausage, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini (optional, but do it)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (white vinegar or red wine vinegar work)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (yes, tablespoons – see notes!)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each dry oregano and dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs if you want! sometimes I add fresh parsley, basil, or chives.


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water for more flavor. Allow to cool slightly and toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
  3. Toss all ingredients together! I like to use about three-fourths of the dressing, and then I save the rest of the dressing to add to my leftovers.
  4. Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I think it actually tastes best the day AFTER you make it.

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