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This Antipasto Pasta Salad will be your new summer side dish! It’s full of delicious ingredients, like artichokes, salami, olives and mozzarella cheese tossed in a tangy Italian salad dressing.
This summer, plan to wow your guests with this beautiful Antipasto Pasta Salad. It’s so beautiful but also tastes incredible. It’s perfect to serve beside a platter of Baked Italian Subs or Grilled Chicken Kabobs.Pin this recipe for later!
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Why We Love This Antipasto Pasta Salad
There are always a wide array of pasta salads at big summer gatherings, and you can usually find at least one epic Antipasto Platter full of veggies (marinated and fresh), olives, cheeses, and charcuterie.
Antipasto is an Italian appetizer, with a platter of marinated vegetables, cured meats and cheeses to choose from.
So I got to thinking: why not combine pasta salad and antipasto? Then it can be served as either an appetizer or a side dish, or even as a main course!
This Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe is:
- Easy – If you can boil pasta, you can make this antipasto pasta salad.
- Fast – With simple ingredients that don’t require much prep, you can whip this salad up in less than 20 minutes.
- Flavorful – With fresh Italian ingredients, like marinated artichokes and salami and your favorite Italian dressing, this salad is packed with so much flavor.
- Make Ahead – The beauty of this Italian pasta salad recipe is that you can easily make it up to a day in advance. Most of the ingredients here only get better as they absorb the dressing. (and the ones that don’t can simply be added just before serving).
- Rotini Pasta – boiled to al dente in a large pot of salted water. Any small-cut pasta will work, like penne, macaroni, or shells, but I like rotini the best for the way it catches the dressing. Even a cheesy tortellini would be fabulous!
- Black Olives – Extra large, and all liquid drained from the can.
- Marinated Artichoke Hearts – Also drained, then quartered.
- Grape Tomatoes or Cherry tomatoes – Cut in half, or quartered if they are really large.
- Small Onion – I use white, but yellow or red onion can work just fine.
- Celery – 2 stalks (ribs) of celery, diced. If you would prefer to use fennel here, I recommend it if you can find it. It is more likely found in specialty stores like Whole Foods.
- Italian Dressing – You can just grab a bottle of your favorite brand, or make 2 cups of the dressing from my Copycat Olive Garden Salad. As for brands, I usually just grab Wishbone or Kraft. For a simple homemade Italian dressing, just combine olive oil and red wine vinegar with some garlic, oregano, or Italian seasoning and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Salami – You want it cut into cubes, so grab a full size sausage rather than the deli slices of pepperoni or soppressata.
- Mozzarella Pearls – Fresh cheese, usually found in the deli section, or a larger fresh Mozzarella cur into small cubes.
- Fresh Basil – If you can get your hands on fresh basil, fresh parsley, roughly chopped will do.
How to Make Antipasto Pasta Salad
See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Combine Veggies and Pasta with Dressing – In a large bowl, add the Rotini pasta, toamtoes, celery (or fennel) olives, artichokes and onion. Pour salad dressing over the veggeis and gently combined until everything is coated. Start with half of the bottle, then add more to your preferenence or keep some on hand in case the pasta absorbs too much.
Add pepperoni, mozzarella pearls and basil. Stir gently to combine. You can add more dressing if you like.
Serve – You can store the salad up to a day in advance, When you are ready to serve, transfer to a pretty platter.
Hot Tip – Flat platters make it easier to serve and to get a bit of each ingredient.
To serve, Crack some fresh black pepper on top with a few basil leaves.
This salad is full of veggies, pasta, meat and cheese, so it’s a perfect stand alone meal, great for enjoying al fresco on a warm night. Pair with a nice crusty loaf of Italian bread or some homemade Focaccia Bread for a delicious summer meal.
- I cannot emphasize enough: salt your pasta water. This adds so much flavor to any pasta dish and really takes the whole recipe from good to great!
- But only cook the pasta to al dente – Pasta salad only gets better as it sits and absorbs all those delicious flavors. It will soften up a bit more as it sits. Most pasta packages include a cooking time for al dente pasta to take the guesswork out of boiling it. Trust me, do not overcook your pasta.
- Prep the ingredients that can sit in the dressing. In general the olives, tomatoes, onions, fennel (or celery) and artichoke hearts do very well sitting in the pasta salad after it’s been dressed.
- Just before serving, add the remaining ingredients – I like to add the salami (or soppressata), fresh mozzarella, and basil just before serving. These will still taste good later but are at their very best right away.
- Learn how to chiffonade the basil. It looks so much prettier for your presentation.
- Don’t dispose of leftovers – There is nothing better than pasta salad leftovers, and they will last in your fridge in an airtight container for several days. You may need to drizzle on a little more dressing if the salad seems dry.
More Yummy Pasta Salads
Antipasto Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces rotini pasta boiled to al dente as per package directions and cooled
- 15 ounce can extra large black olives drained
- 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts drained and each quartered artichoke heart cut in half length-wise
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes halved
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb or two ribs of celery, finely chopped
- 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing I went with Wegman’s brand Basil Vinaigrette
- 9 ounces soppressata or pepperoni cut into small cubes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (or larger fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes
- 5-6 large basil leaves cut to a chiffonade
- In a large bowl, add pasta, olives, artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped fennel and half the bottle of dressing into the bowl.
- Toss well to combine.
- Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
- Just before serving add soppressata, mozzarella, and basil.
- Toss to combine and taste. If needed, add additional dressing and serve.