A stupidly easy pasta salad with pasta, juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion, salami, olives, herbs, and a drench of quick homemade dressing.
If you want to know what I’ve eaten for 4 of my last 5 meals, it’s THIS SUMMER ESSENTIAL. We are kind of having a moment here.
Let’s have a moment together, shall we?
Do you have two and a half seconds? Cool.
You will need:
Just… some stuff.
It’s very flexible. These are my favorite pasta salad mix-ins:
Good, spicy salami. Yummy cheeses. Tomatoes or some other friendly non-threatening vegetable. Greens of some sort – even if it’s just fresh parsley. Olives and red onions and pepperoncini.
Also, we need pasta with good solid texture and shape to absorb all the sauce. I like rotini. (Also, DeLallo! It’s our favorite. The semi-rough texture is unrivaled for sauce-soakage. I get mine at Target or Cub Foods.)
We need a tangy Italian dressing.
Homemade, in a blender or food processor, so it takes approximately 60 seconds. You made that dressing, you pasta salad boss, you.
Toss together, taste and adjust, and exercise every self-control muscle in your body so as not to eat the whole thing before everyone comes over.
- 1 pound uncooked pasta
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
- 1 lb. salami or summer sausage, cut into cubes
- ¾ cup kalamata olives, sliced
- ¾ cup pepperoncini (optional)
- ½ cup sliced red onion
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Italian pasta salad dressing:
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- ¼ cup white vinegar or red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons each dry oregano and dry basil
- Black pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs if you want!
- Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted water for more flavor. Allow to cool slightly and toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.
- Blend up the dressing, or shake together in a jar.
- Toss all ingredients together! I like to use about three-fourths of the dressing, and then I save the rest of the dressing to add to my leftovers.
- Keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. I actually think it tastes best the day AFTER you make it.
- Please note that the amount written is for COARSE sea salt. If you are using fine table salt, start with 2 teaspoons and add more to taste. The dressing itself will be very salty. Like, too salty for a normal salad. But in this recipe, that’s what we want! That dressing is going to get tossed with an entire pound of plain pasta, as well as a whole lot of fresh unseasoned vegetables, and it will taste delicious once it’s all tossed up.
- By all means, customize this salad – that’s what it does best! Try adding blanched green beans, fresh spinach, artichokes, red or yellow peppers, chickpeas, etc. for a more veg-forward version. Or different types of cheese (feta? parmesan?), or different shapes of pasta (penne? fusili? maybe even some tortellini?)… the possibilities are endless. I love this salad as-is but I also love its flexibility!