Classic cold Italian Pasta Salad with a homemade Italian dressing is the perfect potluck or summer side dish. It’s easy to make and everyone always loves it!
Is Italian pasta salad really an Italian dish?
No. This is not an authentic Italian dish. It is called Italian pasta salad because it uses Italian dressing, not because it is a traditional Italian pasta. “Italian” pasta salad is very much an American dish.
What other pasta shapes can I use?
We love rotini pasta in pasta salad, but you can use bowties, shells, radiatorre, or macaroni.
We love fresh mini-mozzarella balls in this pasta salad, but if you don’t like them or can’t find them you can feel free to use whatever cheese you prefer. Other great options include diced block mozzarella cheese, Monterey jack, or cheddar.
Do you rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad?
Yes, you do need to rinse your pasta with cold water for a cold pasta salad. This is for a few reasons. The first reason to rinse your pasta with cold water is that it will stop the pasta from cooking any further. Second, rinsing it will get rid of a lot of the starch that causes your noodles to stick together. Third, you need cold pasta for a cold pasta salad.
Pasta salad with the dressing on it can be stored for later with no problems. You can put it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days, but I highly recommend that you do not freeze this salad.
If you like this recipe you may also be interested in these other delicious pasta dishes:
Easy Classic Pasta Salad
- 1 pound rotini pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 8 ounces fresh mini mozzarella cheese balls halved
- 1/2 – 1 cup sliced olives
- 1 cup mini pepperonis
- 1/2 cup pepperoncinis roughly chopped
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cooled.
- In a large mixing bowl, make your dressing by whisking together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.
- Add cooked pasta in with the Italian dressing. Toss with tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, mini pepperonis, pepperoncinis and onion.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.