This easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe is one of my favorite summer cold pasta salad dishes. It is so easy to make and it perfect for making ahead of time for potlucks, BBQs or a week night dinner. Your favorite pasta noodles, veggies and mozzarella cheese tossed in Italian dressing for an easy pasta salad recipe.
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
Pasta salads are a staple in our house during the summer. I can make a few different ones up at a time and then serve them for dinner. Many times dinner during the summer is something on the grill or cooked in the crockpot because I don’t like to heat up the house during the summer.
Not only do I not like to heat up the house, but I also do not like to spend the time cooking when there is more fun things that I could be doing like hanging out with the kids in the backyard or going on a hike.
Normally we make pasta salad as a side dish for dinner, but I must tell you that this Italian pasta salad also makes an amazing lunch!
Variations of this Cold Pasta Salad
One of the great things about this cold pasta salad recipe is that you can change things up with what you have on hand. I always keep cucumbers, string cheese and roasted red peppers in my fridge and pantry. I am sure you have already noticed that with all of our other pasta salad recipes.
Meats: Change things up by adding grilled chicken, salami, pepperoni, bacon, or ham will all work well with this cold pasta salad recipe. Just chop the pieces small before adding them into your pasta salad with Italian dressing.
Veggies: I love cucumbers and tomatoes in my cold pasta salad recipes. But you can add different veggies to change things up and use what you have on hand. The more colorful the better I say when it comes to making this Italian Pasta Salad recipe. Fresh veggies including, bell peppers (orange, red and green), red onion, carrots (thin sliced), and broccoli are all perfect veggies for pasta salad. I also like canned veggies including black olives, artichokes and roasted red peppers when making cold Italian pasta salad.
Pasta. When making pasta salad I like using either rotini pasta, the tri color pasta is also perfect for adding more color to this easy pasta salad recipe. If you do not have either of those on hand you can use whatever small noodle you have on hand.
Cheese. I use string cheese because it is much easier to chop up when I am trying to get things done quickly. You can use blocked mozzarella cheese but be sure to chop it into small pieces. If you want to change up the cheese crumbled feta will also work well in place of mozzarella cheese in Italian pasta salad.
Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes
- Chickpea Pasta Salad
- Pasta salad with tuna
- Egg Salad Macaroni Salad
- Sundried tomato pasta salad
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
Tips for Making the Perfect Italian Pasta Salad
Don’t over cook the pasta. It is important to not over cook the pasta. Cook just until al dente and then drain them and then cool the pasta while in the strainer with cold water until all of the pasta is cooled. This will prevent a soggy pasta salad.
Cool the pasta completely. Just like over cooking pasta will give you a mushy pasta salad, so will noodles that are not cooled all the way. As soon as they are done cooking you want to shock the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Chop the veggies (and meat) small. Pasta salad is best when the veggies and meat if you are adding any are chopped small. This gives more veggies and more flavor in each bite of this pasta salad with Italian Dressing.
Let pasta salad sit before serving. You can serve this pasta salad immediately after making it however I find pasta salad is best when it has time to sit in the fridge and all of the flavors are able to mix together. Letting the pasta salad sit for a few hours before serving results in a more flavorful and delicious Italian pasta salad!
What to serve with Cold Italian Pasta Salad
This Italian Macaroni Salad is perfect for a meal at home when you are grilling or if you are going to a group picnic and need something amazing to bring with you!
There are lots of great main dishes and side dishes that go along well with this easy macaroni salad recipe. Check out some of our favorites dishes that we make when we are having this cold macaroni salad. Seriously anything that you cook on the grill will work perfectly with this cold Italian pasta salad recipe.
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Grilled Steaks
- Chili Lime Chicken
- Bacon Wrapped Scallops
- Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Mozzarella cheese sticks – 5 ounces of mozzarella cheese if you are using a block.
- Roasted red peppers
- Black olives
- Wish-bone Extra Virgin Olive Oil Salad Dressing or your favorite Italian dressing.
- Cherry tomatoes
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
Cook your pasta according to the box and drain. Immediately run cold water over it while it is still in the strainer to cool the pasta.
Wash veggies and chop into small pieces.
If adding meat chop into tiny pieces.
Cut cheese into tiny pieces.
Once pasta is cooled pour into a large bowl and pour salad dressing on top of pasta.
Add chopped veggies, cheese and meat.
Mix everything well so all ingredients are covered with the salad dressing.
Serve immediately or store in an air tight container in the fridge.
Looking for more cold summer side dishes? Check these out!
- Asian cucumber Salad
- BLT Salad Recipe
- Best Chicken Salad Recipe
- Classic Egg Salad perfect for making Egg salad lettuce wraps
- Broccoli salad with bacon
- Loaded potato salad with Bacon
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 pound rotini pasta noodles
- 5 ounces mozzarella cheese 5 string mozzarella cheese sticks if using them, or block of mozzarella cheese cut.
- 4 cups diced cucumber 2 cucumbers
- 15 ounces jar roasted red peppers
- 6 ounces canned black olives
- 15 ounces Italian dressing
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Cook your pasta according to the box and drain.
- While your pasta is cooking prep the rest of your Italian pasta salad ingredients.
- Wash the cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Cut the cherry tomatoes and cucumbers into small pieces and set aside. Drain black olives and slice them.
- If you are adding any meats cut them into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Cut the pieces of mozzarella string cheese or block of cheese into bite sized pieces.
- When pasta is done cooking, drain in a strainer and run cold water over it while it is still in the strainer to cool the pasta completely.
- Once pasta is cooled pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the salad dressing on top of the pasta.
- Add in the chopped veggies, meats and cheese.
- Mix well to be sure everything is coated.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an air tight container.