Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad is an easy classic pasta salad made with lots of vegetables and a bottled Italian dressing. This is a great salad to take to picnics and potluck gatherings.

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad Recipe 

Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’….Shall We?? 🙂 

Summer salads.  What would we do without out something cool and fresh when we are famished but want something on the lighter side?  I love keeping a couple of summer salads on hand in my fridge for just these type of situations.  

 

Things to Love About this Classic Italian Pasta Salad Recipe –

  • It’s super fast and easy to make.
  • It’s beautiful – love all the colors! 
  • This is a great salad to take to summer gathering since it’s made with an oil-based dressing instead of a mayonnaise-based dressing, making it more food-safe during hot weather. 

What Ingredients Do You Need to Make Italian Pasta Salad? 

  • Rotini pasta 
  • Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing (or your favorite brand of Italian salad dressing) 
  • red onion
  • black olives 
  • bell peppers 
  • grape tomatoes 
  • hard salami
  • mini pepperoni
  • mini fresh mozzarella balls 
  • pepperoncini peppers 
  • grated Parmesan

How to Make Zesty Italian Pasta Salad in 3 Easy Steps – 

  1. Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. 
  2. Toss all the salad ingredients with the dressing in a large serving bowl. 
  3. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve. 

Make Zesty Italian Pasta Salad for your next potluck gathering.Easy Recipe Tips for Making Pasta Salad 

  • What do I need to know about cooking rotini pasta? 

Rotini pasta is a more fragile pasta because of its shape and the many edges it has.  Overcooked rotini pasta will fall apart when you toss it with the vegetables and dressing. 

  • What does al dente mean?

    Cook the pasta just until al dente in texture.  The only way to know this is to do a taste test – the pasta should be firm to the bite, but not chewy or crunchy at the center. 
  • How do I know if my pasta is overcooked? 

    Overcooked pasta will tend to be very gummy in texture, tending to stick to the sides of the pot. To keep pasta from becoming overcooked, do a taste test half way through the cooking time, then again three-quarters of the way through the cooking time.  
  • If I think I’ve overcooked my pasta is there anything I can do?

    If you feel you’ve overcooked the pasta, immediately drain the hot cooking liquids, then plunge cooked pasta into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. 
  • Is it okay to cook pasta in water or should I use broth? 

    Most pasta package directions advise to cook the pasta in water.  I typically use chicken or vegetable broth to cook my pasta (as well as potatoes) since it adds more flavor, yet not more calories. 
  • Can I substitute other pasta shapes for the rotini pasta?

    I prefer using rotini pasta when making this classic Italian pasta salad, but any pasta can be substitute.  I like the rotini shape the best because the ridges seem to hold in the dressing better. 🙂 

Other Summer Salad Recipes to Enjoy –

Italian Pasta Salad is perfect for potluck.

Printable Zesty Italian Pasta Salad Recipe 

A plate of Zesty Italian Pasta Salad is always refreshing.

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad is an easy classic pasta salad made with lots of vegetables and a bottled Italian dressing. We enjoy this salad as a meal during the hot Summer months when you need something refreshing and light. 
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 519kcal
Author: Chef Alli

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rotini pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 - 1 cup medium black olives as desired
  • 1 green bell pepper seeds and membranes removed, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved lengthwise
  • 4 oz. hard salami sliced into strips
  • 2 oz. mini pepperoni
  • 8 oz. mini mozzarella balls
  • 2 Tbs. sliced pepperoncini peppers optional
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • Cook the rotini pasta according to package directions; drain well and reserve.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the sliced red onion, olives, bell pepper, tomatoes, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella balls, and pepperoncini; drizzle with the salad dressing then gently toss once more. Top with the Parmesan, then cover and store in the fridge. Salad is best served at room temperature.
    Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup salad dressing to toss with the salad just prior to serving.

Notes

Rotini pasta is a more fragile pasta because of its shape and the many edges it has.  Overcooked rotini pasta will fall apart when you toss it with the vegetables and dressing. 
Cook the pasta just until al dente in texture.  The only way to know this is to do a taste test - the pasta should be firm to the bite, but not chewy or crunchy at the center. 
Overcooked pasta will tend to be very gummy in texture, tending to stick to the sides of the pot. To keep pasta from becoming overcooked, do a taste test half way through the cooking time, then again three-quarters of the way through the cooking time.  
If you feel you've overcooked the pasta, immediately drain the hot cooking liquids, then plunge cooked pasta into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. 
Most pasta package directions advise to cook the pasta in water.  I typically use chicken or vegetable broth to cook my pasta (as well as potatoes) since it adds more flavor, yet not more calories. 
I prefer using rotini pasta when making this classic Italian pasta salad, but any pasta can be substitute.  I like the rotini shape the best because the ridges seem to hold in the dressing better. 🙂 
 
Course: Main Course, Salads
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: classic pasta salad, cold pasta salad recipes, pasta salad with Italian dressing and vegetables

Nutrition

Calories: 519kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 1273mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 380IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 209mg | Iron: 1mg

For a quick peek at ALL my salad recipes (because I do love me some summer salads!), Click Here. 

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Chef Alli

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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