Loaded with veggies, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella, this Zesty Italian Pasta Salad recipe belongs on your picnic table all year long.  Simple to make and bursting with fresh vegetables, a great side dish for any dinner.

zesty Italian pasta salad in a bowl on a white background with tomatoes on the table.

Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a wonderful thing.  Really…it’s so simple to make that sometimes we overlook the obvious.  Like how I should have shared my favorite pasta salad recipe with all of you a long time ago.  But it’s one of those things that’s so simple to make I forget about it really, until the weather hit 70 degrees and I suddenly crave it.  And I have to make it, like, right away.  And fire up the grill.

This easy Zesty Italian Pasta Salad has been my go-to side dish for decades and it’s only improved over time.  I’m giving you the newest, best version of my favorite pasta salad recipe and you’re gonna just love it!

Ingredients for pasta salad in a bowl on a white background.

How To Make It

This recipe is more of a chopped pasta salad because I like to chop all the veggies up into tiny bits so you can get the perfect bite every time. 

My old version I used to just throw in large chunks of veggies and used a rotini type noodle, which was good but you could only eat one thing at a time.  A piece of broccoli, a chunk of cucumber, a couple noodles.  I like to combine the ingredients on my fork to create the perfect bite, so I decided to go smaller.  Smaller pieces of veggies, smaller cheese, tiny pasta….it was perfect.  

In a pinch, I used a bottled Zesty Italian Dressing but you can totally whip up a homemade vinaigrette in minutes if you prefer.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente according to package directions, approximately 7-8 minutes.

Drain the pasta and allow to cool.

Cut the cheese, salami, zucchini, bell pepper, pepperoncini, olives and tomatoes into small pieces and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add the pasta and cheese to the bowl. 

Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.

Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Dressing being poured over Italian pasta salad in an orange bowl.

How To Make In Advance

Chopped Italian Pasta Salad is great made a few hours ahead of time because it’s gives the pasta some time to absorb the flavors of the dressing.  

You’ll also want to be sure not to overcook the pasta so it doesn’t become mushy and fall apart when it sits a bit.  

One more tip….don’t use the entire bottle of dressing all at once, I like to save about 1/3 of it to toss with the salad right before serving.  The salad does absorb a lot of the dressing while it sits to this is a great way to punch up the flavor.  

Italian pasta salad in a bowl with a white floral serving spoon.

What To Serve It With

We LOVE this pasta salad with just about everything from grilled steak and burgers to our favorite baked chicken breast when it’s not quite grilling season.

It’s also great served with my Grilled Lemon and Herb Lamb Chops.

Several pieces of steak are plated with pasta salad.

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Get the Recipe: Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

This easy Italian pasta salad is quick, easy and perfect for every occasion. Loaded with cheese, salami, veggies and tossed in a zesty italian dressing.
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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces ditalini or other small pasta
  • 1 cups chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 8 ounce container fresh mozzarella pearls, drained (or chopped fresh mozzarella cheese)
  • 1 cup diced provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped salami
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 16-ounce bottle Zesty Italian Dressing, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil and parsley, optional

Equipment

  • bowl

Instructions 

  • Cook the pasta to al dente in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large bowl toss the pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, olives, cheese, salami and pepperoncini peppers until combined.
  • Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 6 hours.
  • Pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss to combine right before serving.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, basil and parsley, if desired.

Notes

You can modify this Italian Pasta Salad with any of your favorite veggies, cheese or meats.
Make it vegan by leaving out the meat and subbing your favorite vegan cheese.
Jazz it up with a dash of Pizza Seasoning!
Serving: 1g, Calories: 272kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 26mg, Sodium: 410mg, Potassium: 240mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 710IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 195mg, Iron: 1mg