This perfect Pasta Salad is my favorite summer side dish, but it is also delicious all year. It’s so easy to make, and it’s always a success at potlucks, barbecues, and parties. It also makes an excellent workday lunch. Pasta Salad was one of the first dishes I learnt to make. I guess the major reason I tried pasta salad so early on was because it is so simple. To cooked pasta, add your favorite veggies, fruits, spices, and meats (if wanted), mix everything together, refrigerate for a few minutes, and voilà! All year long, you have the ideal side or main dish for every meal. A delectable Pasta Salad is wonderful for entertaining since it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, and I think it becomes even better when it’s all left to mix for a bit.

Pasta Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta – I like rotini!
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • 1 lb. salami or summer sausage, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini (optional, but do it)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (white vinegar or red wine vinegar work)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (yes, tablespoons – see notes!)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each dry oregano and dry basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs if you want! sometimes I add fresh parsley, basil, or chives.

How To Make The Best Pasta Salad:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water for more flavor. Allow to cool slightly and toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
  3. Toss all ingredients together! I like to use about three-fourths of the dressing, and then I save the rest of the dressing to add to my leftovers.
  4. Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I think it actually tastes best the day AFTER you make it.