Pasta salad with italian dressing is so easy to make, and always a hit at potlucks and barbeques. Italian dressing gives it fantastic flavor, and you can change up the other ingredients according to the crowd you’re feeding.
This easy Italian pasta salad of my family’s very favorite summer salads. With cheese and pepperoni, we have it as a main dish, but it is also great served as a side dish with grilled chicken, burgers, and so much more!
I usually make my own Italian dressing so I can add less oil, but you can just use the kind in the bottle. It’s tasty all year long, but it is especially tasty with garden fresh tomatoes. YUM!
How to make pasta salad with Italian dressing
- PASTA – Cook your pasta in salted boiling water until just al dente. Drain and let cool. I like to put it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- MIX-INS – Chop all of your vegetables. Dice the cheese. Toss it all together in a large bowl with the cooled pasta.
- SEASONING – Stir in the Italian dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You may want to add more dressing if you like your salad saucy.
- CHILL -You can serve this zesty italian pasta salad immediately, or cover and chill it until you are ready to serve it. Some of my family actually like it better the next day after the pasta soaks up some of the dressing.
Should you put dressing on pasta salad the night before?
That is a matter of preference. As it sits in the refrigerator, the pasta will soak up some of the dressing, making it more flavorful. On the flip side, soaking up that dressing makes the pasta soft.
I prefer my pasta barely tender, so I like to add my dressing right before serving. If you like softer noodles, feel free to let your pasta salad chill overnight. You may need to add additional dressing so your salad isn’t dry.
Some ingredients are fine chilled overnight, but I like to add things like cheese and pepperoni right before serving.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER ITALIAN DRESSING PASTA SALAD
You can keep the leftover pasta salad in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. The pasta and some of the vegetables will get a little softer, but it will still be tasty.
As it sits in the fridge, it tends to dry out, you you may want to add more dressing.
Can you freeze pasta salad?
I don’t recommend freezing pasta salad. Not only does the cooked pasta get mushy, but all of the vegetables lose their crispness. It’s still edible in a pinch, but it’s definitely not the same.
Which pasta is best for salad?
Rotini pasta works great because the grooves hold onto the dressing. Tri color rotini pasta is colorful and fun. I’ve also made it with bowtie pasta and even halved spaghetti noodles. Really, any small pasta you have on hand will work.
- Switch up the vegetables according to your liking. If I have red or yellow peppers, I toss those in. You could also add mushrooms, cucumbers, red onion, cauliflower, diced zucchini, or any other vegetables you have on hand.
- My family is partial to cheddar cheese, but feta, fresh mozzarella, colby jack are also tasty.
- Sometimes I add slices of pepperoni to make it more hearty. Ham, salami, or bacon would also work.
- Stir in some rinsed and drained cannellini or kidney beans.
- Have fresh basil on hand? It’s spectacular chopped and added to the salad right before serving!
More easy salad recipes:
- Balsamic Chicken Salad
- Grape Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Chicken Pasta Salad with Grapes
- Apple Salad
- Spinach Salad with Bacon
- Oriental Salad
RECIPE FOR ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
- 1 12 oz pkg. rotini pasta (about 4 1/2 cups uncooked)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 2 large celery stalks, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 6 ounces broccoli, chopped (about 4 cups)
- 1 6 oz can olives, sliced
- 3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, diced (about a cup)
- 3/4 cup Italian dressing
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente. Rinse with cold water to cool.
- Stir in vegetables, olives, and parmesan cheese. Add Italian dressing and salt and pepper to taste.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 493mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g
Summer get togethers at my house just aren’t complete without a bowl of this tasty Italian pasta salad. If I don’t whip up a batch, my mom usually brings one. I hope it becomes a favorite at your house as well!