Easy Pasta Salad

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Easy Pasta Salad made with mozzarella, black olives, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers in a creamy Italian dressing is the PERFECT side dish to bring to a potluck or picnic!

We’re always working on perfecting our favorite side dish recipes, and right now we’re prepping to make Macaroni Salad, Crab Salad, Best EVER Baked Beans and Cole Slaw.

Classic Pasta Salad
EASY PASTA SALAD

Easy Pasta Salad is a simple side dish made with mozzarella cheese, olives, pasta, and vegetables in a homemade dressing.

This is a meatless version of my Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad, but just as creamy and filling. If you want to add meat to this classic Italian pasta salad, try salami, prosciutto, or pepperoni.

This recipe takes a total time of 10 minutes to throw together, but I recommend refrigerating for at least an hour before serving. The refrigeration time gives the flavors a chance to come together, plus this dish is best served cold.

This is my go-to pasta salad recipe when I have a potluck to go to, and beats store-bought every time! If you buy a pre-made dressing it is almost as easy too!

CAN YOU MAKE PASTA SALAD AHEAD?

This Italian pasta salad recipe is perfect to make-ahead because it tastes best after it’s been refrigerated. I’ll make this cold pasta salad the day before or in the morning when I’m serving this at night.

Reserve some extra dressing just in case the salad dries out, but it should be fine if it’s sealed tightly. I would not make this more than 24 hours ahead, to make sure it’s the best quality possible when you serve it.

HOW LONG IS PASTA SALAD GOOD FOR?

Pasta salad will last for 3-4 days, when tightly sealed in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe because the mayonnaise in the dressing may separate and not defrost well and the vegetables will not hold up well to the freezing and thawing.

WHAT OTHER ADD-INS CAN I PUT IN PASTA SALAD?

  • Zucchini
  • White beans
  • Pepperoncinis
  • Banana peppers
  • Red onion

Easy Pasta Salad

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HOW TO MAKE CREAMY ITALIAN DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, dried basil, dried oregano and dried marjoram in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

TIPS FOR MAKING PASTA SALAD

  • Top with fresh parsley before serving for presentation.
  • You can also make this recipe with penne pasta, or whatever type of pasta you have in your pantry. I avoid using spaghetti noodles because it’s easier to serve this with smaller pasta, but I have seen pasta salad made with it before. The tri-color pasta in this recipe adds a nice color to the presentation of the dish.
  • Add a dash of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar for some flavor variation.
  • Make this Italian pasta salad spicy with some red pepper flakes, diced red onions, or spicy peppers.
  • When pre-cooking your pasta, make sure you only cook it in a large pot to al dente, so you don’t end up with mushy pasta. Rinse the pasta with cold water to keep it from cooking further.
  • You can use store-bought Italian dressing, but this homemade dressing will have a lot more flavor.
  • Add feta cheese to make this a greek pasta salad.
  • Chop your veggies to be about the same size, which will make the pasta salad look more uniform and each part will be bite-sized.
  • Add more antipasto ingredients to this pasta salad recipe like sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, cucumber, Roma tomatoes, or aged provolone.
  • Add some grated parmesan to the top, or serve extra on the side.
  • The Italian dressing has enough seasoning, but you can add some fresh flavor to this Italian pasta salad with herbs like basil, dill, or minced chives.

Quick and Easy Pasta Salad

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Easy Pasta Salad

5 from 5 votes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Course: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American-Italian
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Easy Pasta Salad made with mozzarella, black olives, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers in a creamy Italian dressing is the PERFECT side dish to bring to a potluck or picnic!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tricolor rotini pasta , precooked
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese , diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 8 ounces medium pitted black olives
  • 1 green bell pepper , chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper , chopped
  • 2 cups Italian Dressing (see recipe above or use bottled)

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. In a large bowl add the pasta, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, black olives, green bell pepper and dressing and toss gently, then refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 servings, Amount per serving: 328 calories, Calories: 328g, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 807mg, Potassium: 232mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 685g, Vitamin C: 26g, Calcium: 122g, Iron: 1g

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Keyword: pasta salad
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Pasta Salad

About the Author

Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

See more posts by Sabrina

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. Sabrina,

    I love this recipe as I always love all your recipes. I get very excited when I look at recipes and see they’re from you. I always feel confident trying them as they’ve all been excellent. Thank you for sharing!!