Don’t miss this recipe for a zesty Italian pasta salad with salami, Parmesan cheese, and fresh veggies. This simple pasta salad is perfect for parties, potlucks, or as a quick summer side dish.
Hey cousins! The other day I made this easy Italian pasta salad for lunch, and it was incredible. Like seriously, this cold pasta salad was so amazing I had to run over to Facebook and show it off to the cousins! I asked if y’all wanted the recipe, and of course, everyone said YES. So, here I am, sharing my recipe for a quick and easy pasta salad with salami, veggies, and parmesan cheese.
What Is Italian Pasta Salad?
In Italy, a cold pasta salad is a staple summer dish. It’s typically made with short pasta mixed with a variety of fresh ingredients. The dressing, made in advance and added while the pasta is still warm, usually has an olive oil or vinegar base (like red wine vinegar), which seeps into the cooked pasta and infuses it with flavor.
Italians usually enjoy a pasta salad as a first course, but it’s also great as a buffet dish, at picnics, or as a light lunch. Italian pasta salad is super simple, versatile, and incredibly delicious! I pack my salami pasta salad with fresh, crisp vegetables, a creamy dressing, sweet grape tomatoes, and olives. It’s the perfect combination of everything and tastes way better than the bitter and stale pasta salads available at grocery store deli counters. It’s also fast and cheap to make. What could you possibly NOT love about this pasta salad recipe?
Not to toot my own horn, but I’m confident you’ll make this Italian pasta salad recipe for your next summer cookout. So, let’s jump into how to make it!
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients + Shopping List
When it comes to ingredients for my Italian pasta salad, I use what I have on hand, and I encourage you to do so as well! I have some ingredient preferences, but what’s great about this pasta salad recipe is that you can toss in just about anything, and it’ll still taste great. Here are the ingredients I use for my Italian pasta salad with salami.
- Pasta—a short pasta shape is best. I use Cellentani (or corkscrew) pasta. Cavatappi, rotini, or even macaroni are great pasta for cold pasta salads.
- Red Onion—spicy and sweet, gives a nice bite to the pasta salad.
- Green Onions—are milder than red onions.
- Grape Tomatoes—plump and juicy grape tomatoes are refreshing in any salad. You could also use cherry tomatoes (which are different from grape tomatoes).
- Bell Peppers—I use green bell pepper, but you could also use yellow or red bell pepper for more color.
- Olives—I prefer black olives but feel free to use your favorite kind (green olives, kalamata olives, etc.).
- Salami—I use a dry salami, also called hard salami. It’s bold and smoky, but the flavor balances with fresh veggies and creamy Italian dressing.
Italian Dressing Ingredients:
- Italian Salad Dressing—yes, I use a store-bought salad dressing and beef it up with some delicious additions. I prefer Olive Garden’s Italian dressing, which you should be able to find at your local grocery store.
- Mayonnaise—I prefer Best Foods, aka Hellman’s Mayo. If you have a preference, feel free to use that!
- Minced Garlic—for some added kick in the dressing.
- Fresh Basil—a delicious Italian herb that’s fresh and slightly peppery.
- Seasoning Salt—I use my very own Rosamae Seasonings seasoning salt to enhance the flavors in this pasta salad recipe.
Tossing this salad together is pretty dang simple, but there are a few things you’ll want on hand to make the recipe.
- Large Pot—for cooking the dried pasta.
- Strainer—for draining the pasta water.
- Vegetable Chopper—for chopping fresh vegetables in a flash.
- Bowls—large and small for mixing the salad dressing and ingredients.
- Whisk—for mixing the salad dressing.
- Large Salad Spoon—to mix the Italian pasta salad.
- Airtight Container—to store any leftovers.
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad with Salami
My Italian pasta salad recipe is seriously SO quick to whip up. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll have a delicious cold pasta salad ready for any occasion. Here’s a quick overview of the steps. Then, be sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe, with ingredient measurements and directions.
- Make the pasta according to the package directions. You’ll want to cook it until it’s just al dente for the perfect texture. Rinse the pasta with cold water once drained to stop the cooking and cool it down.
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Italian salad dressing, dry basil, garlic, and seasoning salt and whisk until everything is nice and creamy.
- Toss the cooled, cooked pasta in the salad dressing. It’s best to do this when the pasta is slightly cooled but still warm. The dressing will seep into the warm pasta, really soaking it with all those delicious flavors.
- Add the diced veggies and Parmesan cheese. I love the colorful vegetables in this pasta salad—it’s a gorgeous, delicious rainbow. Fold the ingredients until everything is well combined.
- Refrigerate the Italian pasta salad for a minimum of two hours. This will give the flavors plenty of time to meld together.
Pro-Tips and FAQs for the Best Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
There are so many great things about this Italian pasta salad with salami. It’s totally foolproof. But if you’ve got questions, I got answers! If there’s something else y’all want to know, drop a comment down below!
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredient Variations and Substitutes
If there’s an ingredient you don’t love in this recipe, leave it or swap it out! I used what I happened to have on hand for this particular recipe, but the possibilities are endless. So, here are some ingredient variations.
- Use a different kind of salami—there are so many options! I just happened to have some dry salami on hand. You can totally make your Italian pasta salad with pepperoni, a different Italian salami, spicy salami, or whatever you want.
- Use a different pasta shape. As I said above, there are plenty of options. A tri-color rotini pasta would add even more color to this rainbow salad. Mini shells would hang on to pockets of dressing. Even cheese tortellini would be a great sub for regular pasta. Of course, you could make this easily with gluten-free pasta.
- Switch up the veggies. Use whatever you like or have in your fridge. For example, add artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers, red peppers, your favorite olives, etc.
- Add more cheese. No one ever said, “Too much cheese”! Try fresh mozzarella cheese or mozzarella balls (those little mini ones you find in the store). Feta cheese would taste great. If you want to stick with Parmesan, use shaved or grated Parmesan instead of shredded.
- Tweak the seasonings. Fresh herbs like fresh parsley will add flavor. Red pepper flakes would add some spice. Italian seasoning and black pepper enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.
How long does Italian pasta salad last?
This zesty Italian pasta salad will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container. However, I do not recommend freezing it as the vegetables, and creamy salad dressing will completely break down and change texture once thawed.
Can you make pasta salad ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can make a cold pasta salad up to 24 hours in advance. In fact, this salad tastes even better the next day once all those ingredients have had a chance to sit together. Should you dress your pasta salad the night before? Go ahead! The dressing will soak into the cooked pasta, infusing it with that tangy, creamy flavor. If the salad is too dry when serving, toss some extra dressing in to freshen it up.
Should I rinse pasta when making pasta salad?
Yes, run the pasta under cold water after cooking. As a matter of fact, the only time it’s acceptable to rinse cooked pasta is when you’re making a cold pasta salad recipe. Usually, we love the starch leftover from the pasta water, but in this case, a quick cool water rinse will help to cool the pasta down.
When to Serve Italian Pasta Salad
You can serve this easy Italian pasta salad with salami on almost ANY occasion. It’s a great side dish for a summer BBQ, family gatherings and backyard parties, or weekly meal prep. It’s a great light lunch or dinner or a refreshing side at a buffet. It takes minimal prep time, has delicious fresh ingredients, lasts for days, and never disappoints. If you want even more easy pasta salad recipes, check out some of these reader favorites:
- Easy Cold Summer Pasta Salad Recipe
- Dill Pickle & Ranch Pasta Salad
- Southern Tuna Macaroni Salad
- Deviled Egg Macaroni Salad
If you try my Italian pasta salad with salami and Parmesan, let me know in the comments below! Is this your new go-to cold pasta salad recipe? What ingredients would you add to make it your own? Let me know!
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Italian Pasta Salad with Salami and Parmesan
- Cook the pasta in lightly salted water and once it's al dente, strain and rinse with cold water. Let the pasta cool.
- Next, combine the mayonnaise and Italian dressing in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
- Add the garlic, basil, and seasoning salt into the large bowl. Whisk until well incorporated.
- Add the cool pasta into the large mixing bowl and fold in with the dressing.
- Now toss in the red onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, olives, and salami.
- Fold in the ingredients until everything is combined.
- Sprinkle in the shredded parmesan cheese and lightly fold it into the pasta salad.
- Cover the Italian pasta salad and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Serve and enjoy!