This zesty vegetarian Italian pasta salad is a quick and tasty recipe filled with bright summer flavors. An easy recipe to make for parties, BBQ, potlucks or picnics – it’s ready in only 20 minutes.
I love cold pasta salads and this easy zesty Italian pasta salad is the one I’ve been making a lot lately. This is a great pasta salad to share with family and friends at get togethers, BBQs and parties
Looking for more pasta salads? Try this greek pasta salad or this caprese pasta salad.
This is quick and easy to make – it’s full of healthy veggies and packed with flavor. It has sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, salty black olives, fresh basil and a zesty Italian dressing made with red pepper flakes and oregano.
Pasta salad recipes are a great make ahead recipe that hold up well in the fridge for a few days. It works well as both a main meal or side dish. Leftovers are easy to pack up in individual containers so you have a grab and go lunch ready for the next day.
Why I’m sharing this recipe
Easy to make: Pasta salads are quick and easy to make – this one is ready in 20 minutes.
Customizable: This recipe if packed with vegetables but you can easily customize it to include vegetables that your whole family enjoys.
Stores well: Cold pasta salads hold up well in the refrigerator so make a big batch.
Key ingredients to make this recipe
Pasta: I used rotini but penne or fusilli will work as well.
Vegetables: This recipe is packed with vegetables – cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts and black kalamata olives.
Mozzarella: Fresh is best. I used small mozzarella balls that I sliced in half.
Zesty Italian Dressing: This recipe features a homemade dressing that’s easy to make.
Step by step instructions
Step 1: Boil the pasta in a large pot water according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water until the pasta is cool.
Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, prep all the rest of the ingredients and make the salad dressing.
Step 3: Add the cooled pasta to a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Add the zesty salad dressing to the bowl and toss everything together to combine.
Top tips for making this recipe
What kind of pasta should I use? I used rotini pasta – a short curly pasta. Penne or fusilli would be a good choice as well. Avoid long thin strands of pasta – those won’t work in this dish.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time? Yes, you can make this pasta salad ahead of time. It holds up well in the fridge and by making it ahead of time you allow the flavors to blend. Give a good stir before serving.
What else can I add to this zesty Italian pasta salad? Bell peppers, pepperoncini peppers, broccoli, red onion, sun dried tomatoes, chickpeas or fresh parsley would be good additions to this salad.
Salt your pasta water. By adding salt to the pasta water you are adding flavor to the pasta. Don’t be afraid to add salt to the pasta water – the pasta will not be overly salty.
Yes! It holds up really well in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days – so make a big batch and store in an airtight container. If making ahead for a party, I would add the basil right before serving for a prettier presentation.
Zesty Italian dressing has more zing and flavor due to red pepper flakes being added.
If you don’t have the ingredients or don’t want to make your own dressing then you can totally use bottled dressing. Look for a zesty Italian dressing at your local supermarket.
Looking for more easy summer salad recipes? Then try one of these reader favorites:
- Tomato, cucumber, avocado salad – everyone loves this one!
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Summer Vegetables – easy to make and full of fresh veggies.
- Greek Pasta Salad – a cool refreshing pasta salad with greek flavors.
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If you make this recipe and enjoy it, please come back and leave a comment and rating. I’d love to hear from you!Print
Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
This zesty vegetarian Italian pasta salad is a quick and tasty recipe filled with bright summer flavors. An easy recipe to make for parties, BBQ or picnics – it’s ready in only 20 minutes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: Pasta Salad
- Cuisine: American
- 8 oz of dried pasta – I used rotini
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1/2 cup roasted red pepper – chopped into small pieces.
- 1/2 cup of marinated artichoke hearts – chopped into small pieces
- 15 to 20 black kalamata olives – minced
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella – I used ciliegine (small balls) – cut in half
- 4 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 2 small cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- pinch of salt
- 8 twists of fresh black pepper from a pepper mill
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta when ready and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain throughly before adding to a large bowl.
- Prep and chop all the veggies and cheese while the pasta is cooking.
- Add veggies and cheese to the bowl with the cooled pasta.
- Mix together dressing ingredients and add to the pasta, veggies and cheese in the bowl. Toss to combine and serve.
I used jarred roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes that I got at Trader Joes.
Add salt (1 tbs) to the cooking water before adding the dried pasta.
- Serving Size: 1 of 6
- Calories: 324
- Sugar: 2.3g
- Sodium: 372mg
- Fat: 18.2g
- Saturated Fat: 5.6g
- Carbohydrates: 26g
- Fiber: 1.3g
- Protein: 15.7g
Keywords: Summer Pasta Salad, Quick and Easy Pasta Salad
This is a lovely colorful salad that takes 15 mins from start to finish to make. And who knew those little mozzarella balls had such a wonderful name ….ciliegine.
Thanks, Mom! Love that you make all my recipes! XO
Kelly | Foodtasia
Geraldine, I love a pasta salad and this one has all my favorite flavors! So craving this for dinner!
Thanks so much, Kelly!
Traci | Vanilla And Bean
What a flavor packed pasta salad, Geraldine! The shape of the pasta is so fun and I love how it makes a blank canvas for all the flavor and textures you’ve got going on! Because it can hold in the fridge means I can make once and eat all week! Hooray!
This is a great make ahead salad, Traci – I’ve been making a big batch and then have lunch set for the week!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I love easy, flavor-packed pasta salads like this for summer Geraldine! Such a delicious list of ingredients. I’ll need to get this one on our menu for our next summer party!
Thanks, Mary Ann – hope you try it!