You are going to fall in love with this delicious Italian Pasta Salad! This unique recipe is packed with bold flavors and tons of veggies, and it's super easy to make ... perfect for all your summer entertaining!
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My schedule is already getting crazy ... and summer isn't even here yet! Between travel and get togethers with friends and family, every minute seems to be packed.
Which is why I love easy dishes that can be made in advance, like this Italian Pasta Salad! This delicious recipe is simple to make, yet the bold flavors are out of this world delicious.
You are going to LOVE this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing! It's full of yummy ingredients, yet it takes very little preparation.
The star of this tasty recipe is the antipasto. You've probably had antipasto before. It's often served as a first course or appetizer before Italian meals ... think olives, pepperoncini, giardiniera (marinated veggies), artichoke hearts, cheeses, etc. Yum, right?
And the best thing about antipasto is that you can purchase much of it premade. Which means this vegetarian Antipasto Pasta Salad is ready fast, and it's simple to prepare!
Ready to dig in? Then keep reading for all the delicious details!
This easy recipe is packed with flavorful, healthy ingredients that you can find in any grocery store! Here's what you'll need:
- Pasta - Any spiral or tube shaped pasta will work here. I used cavatappi.
- Veggies - You'll use a combination of fresh vegetables for this recipe: kale, red onion, and grape tomatoes.
- Antipasto - A mix of marinated veggies give this recipe a unique and delicious flavor. I used marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, giardiniera (marinated vegetables), and kalamata olives (other varieties will also work), but you can mix and match these ingredients as you like.
- Mozzarella - Mild fresh mozzarella cheese is the perfect counterpart to the salad's bold flavors.
- Basil - Fresh basil adds tons of fresh flavor.
- Dressing - This recipe features a homemade Italian Dressing that's super simple to make and so tasty.
You'll Also Need
You'll need a large pot to cook the pasta, a sharp knife to prep the veggies, plus a small bowl to make the dressing and a large bowl to mix the salad together.
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
This yummy pasta salad is super simple to make! You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Make the dressing. Start by making the homemade Italian dressing. That way the flavors can blend while you work on the remaining ingredients. To make it, simply whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh garlic, spices, salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar. Tip: If you want to save a little time, then you can use a bottled dressing. This Zesty Italian is one of my favorites!
- Cook the pasta. Next, you'll cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until al dente. Once your pasta is cooked, rinse it under cold water until it's chilled. This will keep it from overcooking and sticking together. Make sure to drain it really well before adding it to your salad.
- Massage the kale. Add the chopped kale to a large bowl, along with a little of your Italian vinaigrette. Get in there with your hands and massage the dressing into the kale. When you're done, the kale should be reduced in volume by about half. Yes, it's kind of a weird technique, but it really does make the kale tender!
- Mix everything together. Once everything's ready, add the cooled pasta to the kale, along with all those veggies and giardiniera, basil, and fresh mozzarella. Then drizzle the homemade vinaigrette over the top and mix everything together. Make sure to taste before serving and season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
This easy Italian Pasta Salad serves a crowd, making it perfect for summer entertaining. If you're only serving yourself or a small family, you could also make a batch on Sunday to eat during the week ... it keeps really well in the fridge.
However you serve it, this is one dish you'll enjoy all summer long!
This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is super easy to customize! For example, you could use sundried tomatoes instead of fresh, regular canned artichokes instead of marinated, or any variety of olives. Don't like olives or raw onions? Skip them. Can't find fresh mozzarella? Use regular mozzarella instead. Want to simplify the recipe? Cut down on the number of ingredients. It's up to you!
You can also make it gluten free by using GF pasta, or vegan by skipping the mozzarella cheese ... with all the bold flavors, it will still be totally delish!
Store any leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It will stay fresh for three to four days.
Looking for summer salad recipes? Try one of these recipes next:
- Vegan Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Cold Asian Noodle Salad
- Kale Pasta Salad with Creamy Lemon-Basil Dressing
- Greek Tortellini Salad
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Chinese Chopped Salad
- Watermelon Basil Quinoa Salad
- Tropical Rice Salad
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound pasta (such as cavatappi)
- 4 cups chopped kale (about ½ a large bunch)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 (12-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
- 1 cup chopped roasted red pepper
- 1 cup chopped giardiniera
- ⅓ cup halved olives
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water
- ½ cup sliced basil
- Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, basil, oregano, sugar, and pepper until well combined.
- Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if desired, then set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender.
- Drain pasta, then rinse with cold water until chilled. Set aside to drain further.
- Place kale in a large bowl; add about ¼ cup of vinaigrette. Massage dressing into kale with hands, until kale is tender and volume is reduced by about ½.
- Add pasta and all remaining ingredients to kale.
- Whisk remaining vinaigrette, then pour over salad. Mix well. Taste salad and adjust seasoning with a salt, if desired.
- Serve pasta salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Enjoy!