Our Italian pasta salad is made with a fresh and flavorful dressing, two kinds of cheese, salami, olives, and the perfect blend of Italian herbs. Take one bite of this pasta salad, and you won’t be able to stop. Jump to the Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Just like our original pasta salad, we pack in as many textures and flavors to this Italian-inspired version as we can. There’s not one, but two kinds of cheese, salami, briny olives, fresh tomatoes, and a generous handful of fresh basil. (If you love briny salads, take a look at this briny Greek pasta salad made with the brine from a jar of pepperoncini peppers.)
The dressing is a winner, too. It’s not all that different from the dressing we use for the other pasta salad, with the exception of an extra pop of flavor from lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic.
We’ve got a few pasta salad recipes already on Inspired Taste so you might be wondering why we needed another one, but trust me, this hearty salad with salami and cheese is a keeper.
Our Italian-inspired Pasta Salad Dressing
Not too long ago, we shared a homemade Italian dressing. It’s bright, herby, and so much better than anything you can buy at the store.
For this Italian pasta salad, we borrowed many of the elements of that dressing and are so glad that we did. Lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, and Dijon mustard come together to make a zesty, fresh-tasting dressing. We also throw in a good amount of herbs like dried oregano, thyme, and basil, which all work so nicely when the salad is tossed together.
Tips for Making the Best Pasta Salad
As with all of our pasta salad recipes on Inspired Taste, this salad gets better when you keep a couple things in mind:
The best pasta to use: Choose hearty pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, rotini, and farfalle (bow tie). They also have the advantage of lots of nooks and crannies, which trap the dressing and bits of cheese. Other shapes can work, too. Orzo pasta is an excellent option, but make sure not to overcook it.
Make ahead tips: Letting the salad sit in the dressing for a while makes a huge difference in flavor. We take the same approach when making potato salad. Make pasta salad and keep it in the fridge for up to five days.
More Easy Salads
Three Herb Italian Pasta Salad
Italian pasta salad made with a fresh and flavorful dressing, two kinds of cheese, salami, olives, and the perfect blend of Italian herbs. Take one bite of this pasta salad, and you won’t be able to stop.
Start with a hearty pasta shape that has nooks and crannies to hold onto the dressing like penne or rotini. We love adding parmesan cheese, which melts into the dressing as well as provolone cheese and salami, but you can always adjust the ingredient list based on your favorite Italian cheeses and meats.
You Will NeedPasta Salad
8 ounces dried pasta like penne, fusilli or rotini
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces sliced provolone cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces Italian-style salami, sliced and quartered
6 ounces tomatoes, chopped, about 1 cup
1 cup olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, choppedSalad Dressing
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced, about 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or use 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1Place the sliced onion into a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set the bowl aside for 10 minutes so that the raw flavor on the onion calms a little. Drain, and then rinse the onions before adding them to the salad.
2Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, 6 to 10 minutes (check the package for recommended cook time). Drain and rinse well under cold water.
3While the pasta cooks, in the bottom of a large bowl, make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, mustard, honey, oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper together until well blended.
4Add the drained and rinsed pasta to the dressing and mix well.
5Stir in the drained and rinsed red onion, provolone cheese, parmesan cheese, salami, tomatoes, olives, and basil.
6Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Serve or for the best results, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 5 days.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Pasta salad gets better and better over time so making it a day in advance is a great idea.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.