This delicious Italian Pasta Salad recipe is packed with bold flavors, and it’s super easy to make … perfect for summer entertaining!
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My schedule is already getting crazy … and summer isn’t even here yet!
It seems like it always does around this time of year. Between travel and get togethers with friends and family, every minute seems to be packed.
Which is why I love easy recipes like this Italian Pasta Salad! It’s super simple to make, yet the bold flavors are out of this world delicious.
This cold pasta salad with Italian dressing is full of yummy ingredients, yet it takes very little preparation.
Want to know the secret? The star of this tasty Italian Pasta Salad is antipasto.
You’ve probably had antipasto before. It’s often served as a first course or appetizer before Italian meals … think olives, pepperoncini, 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 Antipasto Pasta Salad is ready fast, and it’s simple to prepare!
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients
This Antipasto Pasta Salad recipe is packed with flavorful, healthy ingredients:
- Pasta (I used cavatappi, but cellentani, rotini, or even penne would work.)
- Grape Tomatoes (Substitute oil-preserved sundried tomatoes, if you prefer.)
- Marinated Artichokes (Canned, unmarinated artichoke hearts would be fine, too.)
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Giardiniera (marinated vegetables)
- Olives (I like Kalamata, but any variety would work.)
- Red Onion
- Fresh Basil
- Homemade Italian Dressing (Use premade to save time … I like this Zesty Italian.)
I used my favorite antipasto for this cold pasta salad, but you can change the ingredients to suit your taste.
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!
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
Want to see how quick and easy this vegetarian pasta salad is to make? Watch the short video below, then keep reading for a detailed recipe and lots of tips!
So simple, right?
To get started, you need to make the homemade Italian dressing first. That way the flavors can blend while you work on the remaining ingredients.
This vinaigrette is so simple to make. Just whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh garlic, dried basil and oregano, salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar. Feel free to adjust the ingredients (adding more/less oil or vinegar, etc.) depending on how you prefer the dressing to taste.
It’s a super easy vinaigrette. But if you want to save a little time, then you can use a bottled dressing. This Zesty Italian is one of my favorites!
Next, you’ll cook the pasta. Any sort of spiral or tube shape will work … I used cavatappi. Want to make this recipe gluten-free? Simply use gluten-free pasta!
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.
This Antipasto Pasta Salad serves a crowd, so get out your biggest bowl. You’ll add the chopped kale to the 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!
Add the cooled pasta to the kale, along with all those veggies, basil, and fresh mozzarella (skip the cheese to make this recipe vegan). Then drizzle the homemade vinaigrette over the top and mix everything together.
Unless your bowl is totally ginormous, this part might get a little messy. It’s totally worth it though, because this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing is soooo delicious!
This Italian Pasta Salad serves a crowd, making it perfect for summer entertaining. Only serving yourself or a small family? Make a batch on Sunday to eat during the week … it keeps really well in the fridge.
However you serve it, this cold Antipasto Pasta Salad is a recipe you’ll enjoy all summer long!
This easy Italian Pasta Salad is ready in minutes and perfect for entertaining!
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound pasta, such as cavatappi*
- 4 cups chopped kale (about 1/2 a bunch)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 (12-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes**
- 1 cup chopped roasted red pepper
- 1 cup chopped giardiniera
- 1/3 cup halved olives
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water
- 1/2 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 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Massage dressing into kale with hands, until kale is tender and volume is reduced by about 1/2.
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!
*Use gluten-free pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.
**Skip mozzarella to make this recipe vegan.
Loved this Italian Pasta Salad?
If you liked this easy pasta salad, here are some other recipes you’ll enjoy, too:
- Cold Asian Noodle Salad
- Watermelon Basil Quinoa Salad
- Kale Pasta Salad with Creamy Lemon-Basil Dressing
- Chinese Chopped Salad
- Tropical Rice Salad
What is your favorite summer recipe?