What Is The Best Italian Dressing For Pasta Salad
When we make this pasta salad, we use our homemade Italian dressing. It takes only 5-minutes to make and the flavor is incredible. It’s perfectly balanced and goes really well in this salad. And you can make a double batch and use the rest to make green salads or Italian dressing chicken this week.
But store-bought Italian dressing works, too! Just choose your favorite brand and use that in this recipe.
Italian Pesto Pasta Salad
When its summertime and the weather is balmy, nothing hits the spot like a big bowl of pasta salad.
And if youre looking for a delicious cold pasta salad recipe with Italian dressing to make this summer, look no further than Italian Pesto Pasta Salad from realhousemoms.com.
This classic pasta salad recipe has been a summer staple for years, and its guaranteed to be a hit at any potluck you bring it to.
Ready in just 27 minutes, this dish serves 10 people and is only 285 calories per serving.
And did I mention that its insanely delicious?
Italian Pesto Pasta Salad is an easy-to-make dish that will be sure to impress your guests and keep them coming back for more!
Pro tip: Add extra parmesan cheese on top for an extra cheesy flavor.
Classic Pasta Salad Recipe:
This classic pasta salad is the perfect dish for taking to parties, pot lucks, BBQs and more! This pasta salad goes well with so many different things. This pasta salad is packed with flavor and it is easy recipe to put together.
Pasta Salad is our go-to recipe when we need to bring a side or have friends over for a swim day. My favorite thing about a pasta salad is you can keep it very simple and it is still good or you can add different ingredients to make it a complete meal.
We love to add in block of mozzarella cheese and vegetables to add so much flavor to this pasta recipe.
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How To Make It:
Pro tip: Having a party? Make it ahead to save time the day of the party! Use that extra time to socialize and be with your friends and family.
Pasta Italian Salad Notes On Ingredients
Here are the usual players for my classic Italian pasta salad ingredients:
If you have them to use up, or your garden is overflowing, these are also great additions:
- Red onion
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What Does This Dish Taste Like
Remember, this classic Italian pasta salad recipe is mirrored after Betty Crockers boxed pasta salad. So an Italian cook might have a different answer for this I am sure!
Personally, I really like the simplicity of the Betty Crocker recipe but the boxes are so tiny, when youre trying to feed a crowd, I just decided to make my own version one day and never looked back.
The featured flavors in this recipe are: carrots, black olives, bell peppers, Parmesan cheese and creamy Italian dressing.
I go light on the dressing so the pasta isnt overly saturated or greasy but use enough for the pasta and vegetables to be coated in plenty of seasoning and tanginess.
This vegetarian pasta salad is served cold and is best after it has marinated in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight.
Italian Pasta Salad Dressing
To make this recipe quick and easy, I use a bottled Italian dressing but of course, homemade Italian Dressing is amazing if you have the ingredients on hand.
Make aheadThe best thing about this pasta salad recipe is that it gets better as it sits and the flavors blend! Its the perfect make ahead side dish, it takes 20 only about minutes to prepare. What could be better than that?
As this Italian pasta salad sits in the fridge, the acids in the dressing actually work to help break down the starches in the pasta and the proteins in the veggies, resulting in a more flavorful and tender pasta salad !
Make Homemade Italian Dressing combine the following:
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
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What Ingredients Should I Add To Pasta Salad
We wanted to share an extra easy and flexible pasta salad with you. It is straightforward and quick to make. So you can make the best pasta salad, we have shared lots of tips below.
This salad is a mashup between Greek and Italian pasta salad. Greek because we add both Kalamata and green olives and Italian because we throw parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese into the mix. For another Italian-inspired pasta salad, try our Three Herb Italian Pasta Salad.
If you would prefer to leave the olives out, no problem! Use our recipe as a guide, and then throw in the ingredients you love. We have shared lots of suggestions below.
TheBest Pasta To Use: Pasta is essential, but the type of pasta you use does matter. I like the pasta to bite back a bit and hate it when it turns mushy.
Thats why you should choose hearty pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, rotini, and farfalle . 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.
Add Some Vegetables: An assortment of veggies add color and crunch to the salad. We love adding bell pepper, cucumber or zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes, and thinly sliced green onion . You can add other vegetables, too.
Tips For The Perfect Pasta Salad
- Pasta. Traditionally this dish is made with rotini noodles. They have the perfect shape and ridges to really soak in the flavor from the Italian dressing. That doesnt mean you cant use other varieties of noodles though. Penne, fusilli or bow-tie pasta would all taste great too.
- Salt the water. A trick when boiling the pasta is to salt the water first. It helps improve the flavor of the noodles, as well as helps the water boil slightly faster.
- Cook al dente. The goal is to cook the noodles al dente, so that theyre tender to bite but will still remain sturdy enough to hold up in the salad. If you over cook the noodles, they can get mushy and fall apart easily when tossing.
- Extras. There are plenty of delicious extras that you can add to this recipe. Mix in some pepperoni or chopped salami, sliced cucumbers, chickpeas or add a sprinkling of fresh parmesan cheese. You can even swap feta for mozzarella, or leave the cheese out entirely to make this a vegan dish.
- Let marinate. Whenever I make this dish, I like to let it chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This gives the dressing some time to marinate together with the pasta and veggies, so that its extra flavorful and delicious. Plus you cant beat a cold pasta salad in the summer!
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My Tips For Making Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- Be sure and salt the pasta water before adding the dry pasta
- Use an Italian dressing that you LOVE. I really like the Olive Garden Italian dressing so that is the one that I buy. There are so many options. Zesty Italian dressing, creamy Italian dressing, parmesan Italian dressing. Pick one you love or one that sounds yummy!
- It’s best to seed the cucumbers for this pasta salad. Peel the cucumber and then cut it in half vertically . Take a metal dinner spoon and scoop out the seeds and flesh. Then cut and dice the cucumber.
- Use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Either one will work great.
- Eat this pasta salad right away or let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. It’s best not to make pasta salad the day before, because pasta salad tends to dry out as it sits in the fridge for a long time. When you are ready to serve, or are eating leftovers, give the salad a good stir and add a tablespoon or two of the dressing to moisten it all back up again.
- The recipe calls for ¾ cup Italian dressing but feel free to use more or less depending on preference.
Could You Add Other Vegetables Like Cucumbers To This Pasta Salad
Absolutely! Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, beans, pepperoni, ham, salami, fresh spinach pretty much anything youd put on a pizza, I think, would work in this salad.
Ive even added in a bag of salad greens. This is a great base recipe but you can absolutely customize it especially if youre making it multiple times throughout the season. Try some different ingredients just to keep things interesting and fresh.
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Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing
This pasta salad with Italian dressing is easy to make and has the most incredible flavors. Crispy prosciutto, tender bocconcini balls, tangy banana peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, basil, and parmesan cheese get tossed with your favorite pasta and delicious Italian dressing. It’s irresistible!
Which Pasta To Choose
Choose a pasta with grooves or a coiled shape to help enhance the flavor. Rotini pasta is a good choice because the coiled pasta shape helps hold onto the Italian dressing. Pasta shells, cavatelli, farfalle , fusilli, and campanelle are all great choices for this salad.
With a few minutes of preparation, this easy recipe is ready to serve. Simply boil the pasta, cut up the vegetables, and add the Italian dressing and sunflower seeds for a delicious accompaniment to your meal. Punch up the health benefits of this recipe by using whole grain pasta and fat-free Italian dressing. This is an easy way to get a rainbow of vegetables into your diet!
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Italian Pasta Salad Recipe Ingredients
- Pasta I made this pasta salad with rotini, but you can use your favorite pasta shape. Farfalle, orecchiette and fusilli all work well. You can also use a whole grain pasta if you prefer.
- Olive Oil Use a good quality olive oil for the dressing. I like to use an extra virgin olive oil that has a brighter flavor.
- Red Wine Vinegar The vinegar adds a great tang of acid and a bold fruity flavor to the dressing. You can also make this recipe with cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- Salt and Pepper A little seasoning helps to bring all of the flavors alive!
- Artichoke Hearts Use canned artichoke hearts that arent marinated. Be sure to drain them well and remove the stems.
- Red Onion Unlike white onion, red onion has a milder flavor and can easily eaten raw. Dice it finely so that its not overpowering.
- Diced Pimentos These sweet red peppers arent spicy and add a wonderful flavor to the salad.
- Grated Parmesan I like to toss the salad in freshly grated parmesan for a savory finish. You can make this pasta salad vegan and dairy-free by omitting this.
Can I Use Store Bought Dressing Instead
We always recommend making homemade dressing when you can. Its such an easy yet meaningful addition to any salad recipe. But, we also know that you may not always have time to make it or are perhaps missing a few key ingredients. In that case, opt for your favorite bottled Italian dressing. Youll find several varieties at the grocery store.
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Is This Pasta Salad Kid
My son loves this pasta salad. I often make it just for him to eat for lunch, especially over the summer. Make a great dinner to eat in the car on the way to sports on super busy weeknights as well because you can easily eat it with a fork.
Overall, most kids approve of the mild flavor of this dish. Its not too heavy on dressing or overly oil either which appeals to kids. I do typically leave the olives out if making this pasta salad for kids.
What Kind Of Pasta Works Best
Again, up to you. I used rotini pasta because its pretty hearty and holds the dressing well. You can go with the tri-colored rotini, or choose any type of pasta that looks appealing. We like to get fun shapes sometimes, Ive even used spaghetti because thats what I had. Mix it up! Use whatever you have! Theres no right or wrong pasta. You can even use tortellini!
If you want some extra vitamins, you can opt for tri-color pasta which has veggie powder and extra vitamins. There are also gluten-free pastas and well as extra-protein pasta available. Go with what suites your diet and/or your taste buds.
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For Italian Cold Pasta Salad
- Pasta Rotini pasta is the best choice to make the salad. But you can make it withany other pasta of your choice.
- Vegetables I have used bell peppers, baby tomatoes, carrot, English cucumber, redonion. They add fresh flavors, crunch & beautiful colors to the salad. Youcan add any veggies of your choice.
- Olives sliced pitted black olives
- FreshHerbs Fresh coriander leaves/cilantro & basil leaves .
- Cheese Mozzarella cheese cubes. You can use any soft cheese as a substitute. You canalso sprinkle some grated parmesan.
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
I was inspired to make this because I went on a Salami Bender* after the Salami Cream Cheese Roll I shared a couple of weeks ago.
I could never be a food magazine editor or similar. Because a proper editor would ensure that a variety of recipes and ingredients are used. Whereas I find or am reminded of something that I love that I havent used enough of lately and I go on a Bender*.
And my dear readers get sent two salami recipes within a fortnight, the first and only two in the history of RecipeTin Eats!
* Is it just Aussies that use the term bender to describe a wild drinking spree??? Appropriate to apply to the current salami spree Im on!
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How Do You Keep Gluten Free Pasta From Getting Hard
Short answer: you cant. 🙁 Sorry! Cooked gluten free pasta typically does NOT keep well in the refrigerator for more than 2-3 hours before it hardens and becomes crumbly. I find cooked brown rice pasta holds up a little longer and better than a corn/rice blend pasta, but this recipe is definitely best when made then served immediately, or you can refrigerate it for up to 2 hours before serving. You might need to add a touch more dressing before serving if you refrigerate it first.
Okay, okay!! Are you ready to dive into this bowl of deliciousness?!
Crowd Favorite Pasta Salad
I got this easy recipe from my mother in law and changed a few things up to make it my own. Its made with just noodles, veggies and a tangy Italian dressing. I mean, does it get more simple than that?!
Simply throw in your favorite extras to make it your own and dig in! Trust me, this is a dish that your whole family will love. It really is a favorite around our house!
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