Easy Italian Pasta Salad is the perfect addition to your summer cookouts. Tender-cooked pasta blends with crisp fresh veggies, chopped salami, cheese cubes, and store-bought zesty Italian dressing. This easy pasta salad recipe makes a lot, perfect for every summer bbq.
Is it even a summer occasion without pasta salad? This zesty Italian bowtie pasta salad recipe tastes like summer, thanks to crisp fresh vegetables and premade tangy Italian dressing. This quick and easy recipe makes enough to feed a crowd making it perfect for any summer occasion.
Why is this Italian pasta salad the best? First, it is loaded with chopped vegetables, salami, and cheese. Second, it uses premade, bottled Italian dressing. This means less time in the kitchen and fewer dishes without compensating for flavor. That is a win-win, in my book.
Like my Healthier BLT Pasta Salad, this recipe can be made ahead. It is easily adaptable, so you can use what you have on hand. This bowtie pasta salad will quickly become a summertime favorite.
Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
Italian bowtie pasta salad has a ton of flavor thanks to store-bought zesty Italian salad dressing and all the delicious ingredients tossed inside. The premade salad dressing makes this recipe quick and easy. It's a great side dish that can be made in advance (the flavor only improves as it sits) and readily customized.
- Delicious Pasta Salad - Pasta, fresh vegetables, cheese, and salami soak in Italian dressing for hours. The result is a big, bold flavor and deliciousness in every bite.
- Simple Ingredients - You will not find anything complicated in this recipe. Ingredients can easily be swapped for whatever you have. Use your favorite veggies or cheese.
- Perfect Side Dish - Cold pasta salad is the perfect side dish for a summer picnic or barbecue.
- Farfalle Pasta (a.k.a. bowtie pasta) - You can use your favorite pasta shape or see substitutions for other pasta recommendations.
- Cheddar Cheese Cubes
- Salami (chopped)
- Black Olives (sliced)
- Grape (or Cherry) Tomatoes (halved)
- Bell Pepper (chopped) - Use any color (green, red, orange, or yellow).
- Italian Salad Dressing - The recipe calls for store-bought, but you can make your own dressing too.
- Parmesan Cheese (optional) - For garnish.
See the recipe card for the ingredient quantities.
STEP 1 - In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. (See the box for cooking times.) Drain. Rinse with cool water, and drain again.
STEP 2 - Combine the cooled pasta, salami, cheese, bell pepper, tomatoes, and olives in a large mixing bowl. Toss until everything is well incorporated.
STEP 3 - Pour the dressing over the mixture, and toss again until everything is well coated.
As stated above, this pasta salad is versatile. You can switch up the pasta type, add-ins, and even the dressing.
- Farfalle Pasta - Rotini (tri-colored or regular), Elbow Macaroni, or Cavatelli
- Bell Peppers - English Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes, Grape Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts
- Cheese - Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, Crumbled Feta, or Crumbled Blue Cheese
- Salami - Pepperoni
- Black Olives - Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts, or Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Italian Dressing - For a more straightforward flavor, and less sodium, use equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Add-Ins - Pepperoncini, Banana Peppers
What to Serve with Italian Pasta Salad
Cold Italian pasta salad goes with just about anything. Serve it at your next barbecue alongside cooked proteins like grilled chicken or steak. This recipe is excellent for meal prep and easy lunches too. Toss in grilled chicken strips or chickpeas for added protein. Here are some recipes I love to serve with this salad.
- Easy Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Crockpot Frozen Turkey Meatball Subs
- Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers
- Roasted Vegetables - Use roasted vegetables instead of fresh ones.
- Meatless - For meatless pasta salad, omit the salami and add an extra vegetable element like artichoke hearts.
- Keto - Use a keto-friendly pasta alternative. Check the ingredients on the salad dressing or make your own.
- Dairy-Free - Omit the cheese cubes.
- Gluten-Free - Use a gluten-free pasta that holds proper shape when served cold, like Banza.
- Low-Sodium - Use low-sodium salami, salad dressing, and cheese.
Try my olive oil-based Healthier BLT Pasta Salad for a fun salad variation.
- Pyrex Smart Essentials 4-Quart Glass Mixing Bowl
- Farberware Plastic Cutting Board
- PAUDIN Chef Knife
- OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Locking Tongs with Nylon Heads
Store pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Best Pasta Salad Recipes
- Separate the salami after dicing. It tends to stick together.
- Salt pasta water once the water is boiling, not before.
- Make this salad at least four hours before serving. This allows the pasta and ingredients to marinate in the dressing for maximum flavor.
- Do not overcook the noodles. Cook the pasta to al dente. We want the pasta to hold up to the dressing and other ingredients without losing its shape.
- Cool the pasta before adding the other ingredients. This is a cold pasta salad, so make sure the pasta is completely cooled.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is all up to personal taste. However, I always look at the dressing ingredients and nutritional content. My favorites include Drew's Organics and Bolthouse Farms.
Yes! Pasta salad is actually best made the night before, or at least 4 hours before, serving. If desired, toss in extra salad dressing before serving.
No, do not freeze this pasta salad.
**Post Updated: Content and photos updated, and recipe quantities adjusted.
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 lb farfalle pasta
- 1 cup salami diced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese cubed
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1½ cups grape (or cherry) tomatoes sliced in half
- 2.25 oz can sliced vine ripe olives drained
- 1¼ cup Italian Dressing
- For Garnish: grated parmesan cheese
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. (See box for cooking times.) Drain. Rinse with cold water, and drain again.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, salami, cheese, bell pepper, tomatoes, and olives. Toss until everything is well incorporated.
- Pour the dressing over the mixture, and toss again until everything is well coated.
- Allow the salad to sit in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight before serving.