Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
This Easy Pasta Salad Recipe is going to be your new best friend all summer long!
Tri-color pasta, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, onions, and mozzarella cheese tossed in Italian dressing makes this the best pasta salad.
Cold pasta salads are my favorite dish to bring to a potluck party. Everyone also loves when I bring my Greek Pasta Salad, my delicious BLT Pasta Salad, and of course, my Easy Macaroni Salad. Oh, and I will never forget to bring some Party Punch with me too.
Italian Pasta Salad
Headed to a cookout and you’re not sure what to bring? Don’t show up with something store-bought – or even worse, empty-handed! Instead, satisfy a crowd with this Easy Pasta Salad Recipe. It’s a tried and true summertime staple that has all of the classic Pasta Salad ingredients you know and love! It’s equal parts fresh and filling, which makes it ideal for the hot summer months.
Tangy Italian dressing is what brings life to the Pasta Salad ingredients, and it compliments everything in such a zesty way. I use Olive Garden Italian Dressing that you can find at pretty much any grocery store, but you can use whatever you prefer! Also, you can’t skip out on the shredded parmesan cheese. When it comes to cheeses of any kind, I’m never an advocate for missing out on them!
One of the best things about this Easy Pasta Salad Recipe is that it travels well, so you can pack it up and hit the road! Whether driving to the beach or walking down the street to a backyard barbecue, you’ll love how well this Pasta Salad holds up. And when you arrive wherever you’re headed, everyone will be excited to see that you’ve brought this timeless side dish with you!
- Pasta: I love using tri-color pasta or any rotini pasta.
- Tomatoes: Fresh grape tomatoes are my favorite, but you could use Roma tomatoes too.
- Cucumber: A cucumber adds a great crunch to this salad. You can peel your cucumber or keep the skin on.
- Onion: Red onions pairs perfectly with Italian dressing.
- Olives: Black olives are the best, but you could mix them up and use green olives.
- Mozzarella: I love using mozzarella pearls, it adds so much flavor to this pasta salad.
- Italian dressing: I used Olive Garden Italian Dressing but you can use any Italian dressing.
- Parmesan: top with shredded parmesan right before serving.
How To Make Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse in cold water.
- Toss the salad. Pour pasta into a large bowl, and add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives, and mozzarella pearls. Pour dressing to coat evenly.
- Chill. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour but the best is 4 hours to 1 day. I think it actually tastes the best the day after you make it.
- Serve! Right before serving, top with shredded parmesan.
- Cook pasta al dente. You don’t want the noodles to be mushy, so cook them al dente. And don’t forget to salt your pasta water, this adds more flavor to your noodles.
- Add meat. If you want to add some pepperoni or cubed salami for some extra protein and flavor, go ahead.
- Too much cheese? If you don’t want to add the mozzarella pearls or the shredded parmesan, just leave it out.
- Marinate. Let this dish chill in the fridge and marinate for at least a couple of hours. I love making this pasta in the morning for a party for that night so it has all day to marinate.
YES! This pasta salad can be made the day before. I would just add the cheese right before you’re ready to serve it.
Yes! Rinsing the noodles in cold water helps the noodles stop cooking and cools them down faster. You want to make this pasta salad when the noodles are completely cooled.
Make sure that you cook your pasta al dente. So if you’re using rotini pasta, you should only cook the pasta for 7 minutes. This will help the pasta from getting too mushy/soggy.
Pasta Salad will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just note that the veggies may not be as crisp and fresh by day 3 because of the Italian dressing, but it’ll still be tasty! Also, try not to add the parmesan cheese to your Pasta Salad until you serve it, as it doesn’t hold up well in the fridge with the other ingredients.
More Side Dishes
Easy Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces tri-colored pasta
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
- ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 3.5 ounces sliced black olives, drained
- 8 ounces container mozzarella cheese “pearls”, cut in half
- 1 ¼ cup Olive Garden Dressing, or your favorite Italian dressing
- Top with shredded parmesan before serving about ½ cup
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse in cold water.
- Pour pasta into a large bowl, add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and mozzarella pearls.
- Pour dressing to evenly coat.
- Cover and chill for at least 1 hour but best is 4 hours to 1 day. I think it actually tastes the best the DAY after you make it.
- Right before serving, top with shredded parmesan.
- Pasta Salad will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just note that the veggies may not be as crisp and fresh by day 3 because of the Italian dressing, but it’ll still be tasty! Also, try not to add the parmesan cheese to your Pasta Salad until you serve it, as it doesn’t hold up well in the fridge with the other ingredients.
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