Ultimate Pasta Salad Recipe

The Ultimate Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad is more than just a dish; it’s a canvas for creativity. This guide will help you master the basics and encourage you to experiment with your own variations.

Ingredients for the Base

Choosing the Right Pasta

Rotini, with its spirals and grooves, is an excellent choice for pasta salad. These shapes are great at holding onto the dressing, ensuring every bite is flavorful.

Freshness in Every Bite: Vegetables

The addition of cherry tomatoes, red onion, and parsley not only adds a burst of freshness but also vibrant colors that make the salad visually appealing.

The Cheese and Meat Harmony

Mozzarella cheese balls and cubes of salami bring a delightful texture and richness to the salad. They complement the fresh ingredients with their savory flavors.

Crafting the Perfect Dressing

The Role of Olive Oil

Olive oil serves as the base of the dressing, providing a smooth texture and a hint of fruitiness.

Vinegar: The Acidic Touch

White or red wine vinegar adds a necessary acidity to the dressing, balancing the richness of the oil and cheese.

Seasonings and Herbs: The Flavor Boosters

A combination of garlic, sugar, oregano, and basil elevates the dressing. These seasonings infuse the salad with classic Italian flavors.

How To Make The Best Pasta Salad

Cooking Pasta to Perfection

The key to a great pasta salad is cooking the pasta just right – al dente. Salted water and a bit of oil prevent sticking and enhance flavor.

Mixing Your Dressing

Whether blended or shaken in a jar, the dressing should be emulsified and well-seasoned.

Combining Ingredients with Flair

Tossing the ingredients with the dressing ensures every piece is coated in flavor. It’s often best served the day after preparation, allowing the flavors to meld.

Serving and Storage Tips

Best Practices for Serving

Chill the salad before serving to enhance its refreshing taste. Adding fresh herbs just before serving keeps the flavors vibrant.

Storing Your Pasta Salad

Proper storage in the fridge can keep your pasta salad fresh for 2-3 days, making it a great make-ahead dish.

Customizing Your Pasta Salad

Vegetarian Variations

Easily adapt this recipe for vegetarian preferences by omitting the meat and adding more vegetables or a plant-based protein.

Adding a Protein Punch

For a more substantial dish, consider adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu to the mix.


  • How long can I store pasta salad in the fridge?
  • Can I use a different type of pasta?
  • What are some dairy-free alternatives to mozzarella?
  • How can I make my pasta salad gluten-free?
  • Can I prepare the dressing ahead of time?
  • Are there any substitutes for olives and pepperoncini?


Pasta Salad is a versatile and beloved dish that allows for endless creativity. By following these guidelines, you’ll create a salad that’s not only delicious but also a visual feast. Remember, the best pasta salad is the one tailored to your tastes and preferences. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own.

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Ultimate Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Author: recipevalue
  • Total Time: 30 minutes + chilling
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


The Ultimate Pasta Salad is a vibrant and refreshing dish perfect for summer picnics, potlucks, or a nutritious family dinner. Packed with a variety of fresh vegetables, rich cheeses, savory meats, and tossed in a homemade Italian dressing, it’s a dish that promises flavor in every bite.


  • 1 pound uncooked rotini pasta
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, halved
  • 1 lb salami or summer sausage, cubed
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup pepperoncini, optional
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • For the Dressing:
    • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white vinegar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
    • 2 teaspoons dry basil
    • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water until al dente. Rinse under cold water and drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, olives, pepperoncini (if using), red onion, and parsley.
  3. For the dressing, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, water, salt, garlic, sugar, oregano, basil, and black pepper in a bowl or shake in a jar until well combined.
  4. Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld.


  • Pasta salad can be customized with additional vegetables or proteins.
  • Leftovers store well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Italian-American


  • Calories: 550
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 1250mg
  • Fat: 35g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 40g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Cholesterol: 45mg

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