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What do you get when you combine all your favorite antipasto ingredients with pasta salad? Antipasto Pasta Salad, your new go-to summer side dish. Prepare to be the most popular person at the picnic!
I’m from an Italian-American family, and I have to tell you, we know how to do a good get-together. More specifically, there is some serious eating happening and I’m not even a little bit sad about it (although my waistline might disagree!). Of course, there are always a wide array of pasta salads at summer gatherings. And at most gatherings, there’s also an antipasto platter full of veggies (marinated and fresh), olives, cheeses, and charcuterie.
So I got to thinking: why not combine pasta salad and antipasto? These are two major players in the world of party platters and huge favorites of everyone we know. This is bound to be a hit!
The great thing is, most of the usual suspects are also an excellent fit for a pasta salad recipe. And you know how pasta salads tend to get better as they sit in the fridge and absorb the dressing? Most of the ingredients here only get better as that happens (and the ones that don’t can simply be added just before serving). It’s basically begging you to make it ahead, which is totally convenient.
How to make Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Boil the pasta- 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.
- Mix the salad up and dress it- Start with half a bottle and know that you’ll probably add more dressing later because the pasta absorbed the dressing that you started with. I tend to buy an extra bottle of dressing to keep on hand in case I need more.
- 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. Bonus tip- chiffonade the basil- here’s a tutorial on how to do this.
- Don’t dispose of leftovers- There is nothing better than pasta salad leftovers!
Some of my other favorite pasta salads are:
Antipasto Pasta Salad
- 8 oz rotini pasta boiled to al dente as per package directions and cooled
- 1 15- ounce can extra large black olives drained
- 1 15- ounce can quartered artichoke hearts drained and each quartered artichoke heart cut in half length-wise
- 1 8- ounce container grape tomatoes halved
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb or two rubs of celery, finely chopped
- 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing I went with Wegman's brand Basil Vinaigrette
- 1 9- ounce soppressata or pepperoni cut into small cubes
- 1 8 ounce container 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.