Italian Pasta Salad can’t be beat when it comes time to choose a favorite cold pasta salad. Made with homemade Italian dressing, prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes, this colorful salad is hearty enough to be a meal in itself.
Pasta salads are a staple side dish for summer picnics or fall season potlucks. If I don’t have this Italian pasta salad with me, it’s almost a guarantee this Greek Pasta Salad or Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad are making an appearance.
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Anyone else prefer pasta salads year-round instead of just summertime? While pasta salad does surge during the summer months, when outdoor gatherings and weekend barbecues fill the social calendar, pasta salad is welcome, hearty dish, even in the colder months of the year.
Now that stores are filled with ripe produce from around the world year-round, it makes it easier to find delicious tomatoes in the middle of January if we are craving a pasta salad.
This particular Italian pasta salad is packed with flavorful ingredients that makes every bite “pop”. The prosciutto, which is delicately sweet and salty, contrasts nicely with the intense sweet-tart flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes. Every bite is magical!
While there are so many variable ingredients you can add to pasta salad, I have found this mixture to yield the perfect flavor!
Ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad
- dry rotini/corkscrew pasta noodles, you could even use penne pasta, the same noodle you would use to make mostaccioli
- sliced black olives
- pine nuts -very high in oil, giving them an almost buttery texture…perfect for pasta salad
- sun dried tomatoes -packed in oil
- olive oil
- white balsamic vinegar – blends white grape must with white wine vinegar and is cooked at a low temperature to avoid any darkening
- Dijon mustard – do not substitute
- honey – clover honey works well
- Italian seasoning – a blend of ground herbs used to flavor many Italian cuisine dishes, things like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, sage, or coriander.
- salt and pepper
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- fresh mozzarella
- arugula – leafy green with a peppery taste
- prepared pesto
Pasta salad could not be easier to make!
How To Make Italian Pasta Salad From Scratch
Step One: Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. When finished cooking, drain the pasta and rinse with cool water.
Step Two: In a medium bowl or a mason jar, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Step Three: Roast the pine nuts over medium heat in a dry pan until golden brown. (Be careful, they start slow but can burn quickly. Stay close to the pan and stir regularly.)
Step Four: Add pasta and all other ingredients for the salad in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss until incorporated.
Can I Make Pasta Salad Ahead of Time?
While you can easily serve this salad shortly after putting it together, it’s even better if you let the ingredients meld overnight.
If you do decide to let the salad sit overnight, leave out the fresh tomatoes and arugula, adding them in shortly before serving.
What Is The Best Pasta For Pasta Salad?
I have found using a short pasta shapes, with lots of “nooks and crannies” such as, rotini, macaroni, fusilli, farfalle or penne work best!
What Goes With Pasta Salad?
Since pasta salad is usually served as a side dish, it tends to go well with so many things…
You could also serve this pasta salad as a main course with this amazing garlic and parsley bread.
Can I Make More To Feed A Crowd?
Just double the ingredients to feed around ten people at your next barbecue or potluck.
What If I Don’t Have or Like Pine Nuts?
Pine nuts add a nice texture and taste to the salad, they are buttery and delicious, especially when roasted as called for in the recipe.
You can leave the pine nuts out or substitute with another kind of nut to your liking.
Regardless of which nut you choose, I would recommend roasting them to get the best flavor.
Is It Eaten Cold?
Pasta salad can either be eaten cold or served at room temperature, it holds up well either way.
Personally, I take it out of the fridge right before serving and by the time everyone sits down to eat it has warmed up a bit.
One bite of this pasta salad with homemade dressing and you’ll be hooked.
This pasta salad recipe is one you will return to time and time again.
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Italian Pasta Salad
- 2-1/2 cups uncooked (dry) pasta
- 1/2 lb diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 (4-5 oz) mozzarella ball, cut into cubes
- 3.5 oz prosciutto, cut into 1" pieces
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, cut into small pieces
- 1 handful of arugula, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp prepared pesto
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. When finished cooking, drain the pasta and rinse with cool water.
- In a medium bowl or a mason jar, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- Roast the pine nuts over medium heat in a dry pan until golden brown. (Be careful, they start slow but can burn quickly. Stay close to the pan and stir regularly.)
- Add pasta and all other ingredients for the salad in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss until incorporated.
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