Spring and Summer always remind me of really amazing potlucks from my childhood on the weekends. My mom would make so much food. It was staggering but also very delicious. My mom would generally cook something Japanese-American and we’d get a random slew of specialties from the many ethnicities that walked through our door. One of the mainstays to warm weather potlucks will always be pasta salad. It’s even better if the pasta salad is not mayo-based. Then it can stand to be un-refrigerated for longer. Friends, I give to you:
The Italian Pasta Salad.
Ok, it really should read Italian-American Pasta salad. Because honestly, they probably don’t serve this in Italy. But I digress. This salad is a mainstay to the American potluck and picnic scene. There’s meat, cheese, veggies, and of course pasta. And if given time to marinate overnight, this is a pasta dish that even my semi-picky four year old LOVES. This is quite a feat, because he doesn’t like vegetables touching the food he’s actually going to eat.
To make this salad even easier, you could use your favorite store-bought dressing. However, it is soooo much better with the homemade Italian dressing that’s included. It’s the perfect blend of sweet, salty, oily, and tart. The salami I used was shelf-stable (not in the refrigerated section). But you can definitely substitute it with your favorite pepperoni or deli cuts as well. I also used tri-colored rotini pasta. It’s perfect for this recipe since it has nooks and crannies to absorb a lot of flavor. But you can easily customize this recipe to fit your tastes.
If you want to make this pasta salad ahead of time, just chop the ingredients up and put them in one bag. Then boil your pasta, drain, and put into another bag or bowl. I generally boil all of my pasta for dishes a few days in advance to save on prep time before events. I’m pretty sure that this doesn’t freeze well.
The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
16 oz tricolor rotini pasta
8 oz salami chopped
3 oz can sliced black olives, drained
8 oz mozzarella chopped
1 large tomato (I used 3 Roma tomatoes) chopped
1/4 red onion chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 white vinegar
1 tbsp dry parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tbsp granulated sugar
dash of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil pasta according to directions written on box. Drain and cool under running water.
2. (Skip if you are using store-bought dressing) Mix all of dressing ingredients together. I usually mix mine in a jar but it can be whisked together in a bowl.
3. Combine all of pasta ingredients with dressing. Best if left to marinate for a few hours but can be served immediately. Enjoy!