This Easy Italian Pasta Salad is the perfect accompaniment to your barbecue. This classic pasta salad recipe uses fresh ingredients and store-bought Italian dressing. It makes a lot, which is perfect for any summer occasion.
Is it even a summer barbecue without pasta salad? This Italian bow tie pasta salad tastes like summer thanks to crisp vegetables and zesty premade dressing. It is perfect for any summer occasion. This quick and easy recipe makes a lot, enough to feed a crowd.
Why is this Italian pasta salad so good? First, it is loaded with chopped vegetables, salami, and cheese. Second, it uses store-bought Italian dressing. This means less time and fewer dishes without compensating for flavor. That is a win-win in my book!
Like my Healthier BLT Pasta Salad, it uses pantry and refrigerator staples. It is easily adaptable, so you can use what you have on hand. If you love this pasta, then you will also love my Summer Pesto Pasta Salad and Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad too!
- Farfalle Pasta (a.k.a. bow ties) - See below for other pasta reccomendations.
- Cheddar Cheese (cubed)
- Salami (diced)
- Black Olives (sliced)
- Grape (or Cherry) Tomatoes (halfed)
- Bell Pepper (diced) - Use any color (green, red, orange, or yellow).
- Italian Dressing - Store-bought or homemade.
- Parmesan Cheese (optional)
See the recipe card for quantities.
1 - 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.
2 - In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, salami, cheese, bell pepper, tomatoes, and olives. Toss until everything is well incorporated.
3 - Pour the dressing over the mixture, and toss again until everything is well coated.
As stated above, pasta salad is versatile. You can switch up the pasta type, add-ins, and even the dressing.
- Farfalle Pasta - Swap rotini (tri-colored or regular), elbow macaroni, or cavatelli.
- Cheese - Use Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, or crumbled feta in place of the cheddar.
- Salami - Substitute mini pepperoni for chopped salami.
- Olives - Swap kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, or sun-dried tomatoes for the canned black olives.
- Italian Dressing - For a more straightforward flavor, and less sodium, use equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
What to Serve with Italian Pasta Salad
This pasta salad goes with just about anything. Serve at your next barbecue or alongside cooked proteins like chicken or steak. This recipe is excellent for meal prep and easy lunches. 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.
Can you freeze pasta salad with Italian dressing? No, do not freeze this pasta salad.
- Separate the salami after dicing. It has a tendency to stick together.
- Salt pasta water once 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.
- 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 nutrition 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.
**Post Updated 6/7/2022: 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.