Make an easy Italian pasta salad side dish for any picnic or potluck, it is fast and simple to make ahead. A classic summer dish that is perfect for backyard barbecues at all your summer family parties. Make it your own with different kinds of pasta or vegetables. Leave out the meat for a vegetarian dish.
I have made pasta salad for years. When Jim and I were dating I found a fun pasta salad that used cheddar cheese, broccoli, and mayo. Jim loved it and has asked for that recipe much time in the past year. I have to get a hold of the recipe and will post the recipe that bonded us on one of our first dates. (I just have to find it first) One of our first dates was helping his sister with some minor repairs at her new home. The appliances were not in and I made a picnic lunch to take on our date after the work was done. Little did I know that pasta salad was the way to his heart.
In the last 30+ years, I have made a lot of different pasta salads, but now that we are keeping our dishes lighter I have tried to stay away from a mayo base. The Italian pasta uses a lot of the ingredients of an antipasto salad and a bottled dressing that we love and makes the recipe super simple. I love the rotini noodles and the tri-colored rotini, but any pasta shape will work. Test out our favorite, or try some new shapes, my kids always loved the wagon wheels or the bow tie.
Pasta salad is a classic for many American parties, barbecues, reunions, and potlucks. You can add or subtract ingredients as you like and can make it vegetarian for the vegetarians in your family. I like to make sure my pasta salad is cold so I refrigerate it for at least an hour and I like to add the grape tomatoes. My recipe has an Italian twist so it is a pasta salad with pepperoni and baby mozzarella balls, lots of basil, and oregano. If you want to make this a lighter meal you could substitute cooked chicken for the pepperoni.
Make Ahead Italian Pasta Salad:
One of the best parts of making a pasta salad in the summer or any time is that it can be made ahead of time. To keep the salad fresh, cook the pasta, letting it totally cool and put in a plastic bag or container. Then chop all of the ingredients and keeping them separate in bags or containers in the refrigerator. The next day, mix with the dressing and you have a fresh salad in just a matter of minutes.
How to Use the Instant Pot for Pasta Salad:
One of the ways to speed up making a pasta Salad and keep your kitchen from heating up in the summer is to make the pasta in the Instant Pot.
The Basic Pasta Instant Pot Recipe:
- One box of pasta
- Enough water to cover the pasta in the Instant Pot
- A dash of salt
- Set the lid, set to seal.
- High pressure for 4 minutes, fast release.
If you are using really small pasta like a mini bow tie, start by only using 3 minutes.
Simple Ingredients Needed for Easy Italian Pasta Salad:
- Mini Mozzarella Balls
- Black Olives
- Red or Green Pepper
- Red or White Onion
- Grape Tomatoes
- Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 box of Rotini pasta 16 oz cooked al dente
- 1/2 cup of pepperoni cut into cubes
- Fresh Mozzarella Pearls mini mozzarella
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 small onion minced
- 1 green pepper chopped into cubes
- 1 can of black olives, cut in half
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 3 stocks of celery chopped in bite size
- 1 bottle of Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta per the directions on the package to al dente, usually one minute less than the total on the box.
- For a quick and easy method: make the pasta in the Instant pot, add the pasta to the Instant Pot cover with water about 4 cups, a dash of salt. Secure the lid, set the valve to seal, and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, with a quick release.
- Drain the pasta and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- While the pasta is cooking, draining, and cooling, chop all the other ingredients.
- Combine the cold pasta and all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the entire bottle of the Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing.
- Mix well and refrigerate.
A perfect side for any meal. You can substitute the pepperoni with cooked chicken for the main dish.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad
Classic Italian Pasta Salad is so versatile for any meal. Add your own touch with any vegetable you have on hand that goes with any Italian dressing.