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!
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 you should refrigerate 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 a perfect pasta salad recipe for potlucks, 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. Make this cold pasta salad the day before or in the morning when you’re 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.
OTHER CLASSIC SIDE SALADS
ADD-IN IDEAS FOR PASTA SALAD:
- White beans
- Banana peppers
- Red onion
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HOW TO MAKE CREAMY ITALIAN DRESSING:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ 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.
OTHER PASTA SALAD RECIPES:
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. 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 the homemade dressing above 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.
HOW TO STORE PASTA SALAD
- Serve: Pasta Salad should be chilled in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving. Do not leave at room temperature for longer than two hours.
- Store: After serving, store Pasta Salad in an airtight container for up to 4 days and stir well before serving.
- Store: Oil-based dressings don’t freeze well so, don’t bother freezing this recipe, just toss it and make a fresh batch.
- 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)
- In a large bowl add the pasta, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, black olives, green bell pepper and dressing and toss gently.
- Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.