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Italian Pasta Salad packs a powerful flavor punch worthy of any summer barbecue or potluck and is easy to throw together at a moment’s notice. Made with pantry ingredients and fresh veggies, this easy pasta salad is a classic family favorite.
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients and Substitutions
This crowd-pleasing Italian pasta salad is endlessly customizable. Using your favorite pasta and veggies, you can come up with a perfect pasta salad everyone will love!
- Zesty Italian Dressing – This recipe includes both the prepared dressing and the seasoning mix to really amp up the flavor. It’s “zesty” but not spicy. If you prefer something more mild you can use a regular Italian dressing.
- Pasta – Pick your favorite pasta here! I love using rotini or penne, which I usually have on hand.
- Vegetables – Broccoli, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and artichoke hearts are some of my favorites.
- Olives – Black olives or Kalamata olives add a delicious tangy flavor.
How to Make Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente (still with a little bit of a bite to it) and rinse it. Usually I don’t recommend rinsing your pasta, but that’s just for hot dishes. A quick rinse in cold water will help the pasta stop cooking. Then put it in the fridge to chill.
Chop the veggies and add to the pasta. Chop the veggies if you haven’t already and add them into the cooled pasta. You can optionally marinate the veggies in the dressing for 3-4 hours for more flavor, before adding to the pasta.
Add olives. Drain the olives and add to the pasta salad. You can use any kind of olives you like here. Black olives are always a favorite while Kalamata olives add a more tangy flavor.
Mix in dressing and seasoning. Pour half a bottle of Zesty Italian dressing and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of the dry Zesty Italian seasoning mix over the pasta and toss together.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Feel free to customize your Italian Pasta Salad any way you like. Want more veggies? Add them! Don’t like olives? Leave them out! This is your salad so you need to like it!
- Try adding some Parmesan or Feta cheese for a little more flavor.
- For an easier bite, blanch the broccoli for a couple of minutes to soften before adding it to the pasta salad. Boil for a minute or two then transfer to a bowl of ice water.
- Make ahead up to 24 hours. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. If the pasta absorbs the dressing, add a little more and give it a good stir.
Yes, I prefer to rinse pasta for cold pasta salads. It helps to remove excess starch and stop the cooking process. This keeps your pasta salad from becoming mushy. If you’re not assembling the pasta salad right away, you can put it in the fridge to chill.
Keep your pasta salad tightly covered and refrigerated and it will last about 3-4 days.
More Pasta Salad recipes
- Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
- Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
- Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 pound pasta your choice
- 3 cups vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, and tomatoes chopped
- ½ – 1 cup sliced olives I used Kalamata olives, but black olives are good in this too!
- 8 ounces bottled Zesty Italian dressing
- 1 tablespoon dry Zesty Italian dressing seasoning mix
- Boil the pasta according to package directions. Rinse in cold water when cooked.
- Add the vegetables to the salad. For extra flavor, marinate the veggies in the dressing for 3-4 hours prior to putting the salad together. This is optional.
- Add the olives to the salad and toss together.
- Mix in half of the Zesty Italian Dressing. Reserve the other half and the dry seasoning mix for immediately before serving the salad, and then mix in.