This easy recipe for Italian Pasta Salad is made with all the goodness of antipasto platter and a homemade red wine vinaigrette. This simple pasta salad is a fresh dish that is perfect for picnics or side dishes.
I adore pasta salads.
Growing up, we had a form of pasta salad at every family gathering. And I knew if I ate nothing else, I knew I would enjoy that pasta salad.
One of the dishes that always made our family cookouts as well was an Italian pasta salad–and it is a recipe worth sharing.
Italian Pasta Salad
This Easy Italian Pasta Salad is made with olives, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, sweet onions, a red wine vinaigrette made with capers. This salad packs a lot of flavor! It is like an Anitipasto tray tossed with noodles. Hence the name, Antipasto Pasta Salad.
How to Make Pasta Salad
- Cook pasta in heavily salted water.
- Be sure to choose a pasta that has twists and curves so that the noodle can hold on to some of the additions to the pasta salad.
- Make Red Wine Vinaigrette.
- Drain pasta.
- Toss the cooked pasta with 1/4 of the red wine vinaigrette.
- Let the pasta cool before adding the remaining dressing.
- Tip: To cool pasta quickly, spread on a large sheet pan so the heat can evaporate.
- Toss pasta with remaining dressing and additional toppings.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving for the best flavor.
Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette
A lot of people open up a bottle of Italian dressing, dump it on some noodles and call it a pasta salad. While that can certainly be tasty, I guarantee you that by just taking a few extra minutes to make your own homemade pasta salad dressing, you will be seriously upping your game and making everyone you serve this to happy!
This simple homemade red wine vinaigrette is made with just red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, garlic and my secret ingredient–capers. The capers blend right into the dressing and give the dressing a salty kick. Much like anchovies–without the fish guts!
Should You Rinse Cooked Pasta?
For the love of Italy, PLEASE do not EVER rinse cooked pasta. This removes all the starch that helps the dressing stick to the pasta, not to mention the flavor of pasta.
Instead, cook pasta according to package directions and then drain well.
Notes on Italian Pasta Salad
- Use gluten-free noodles for a Gluten Free Italian Pasta Salad.
- Feel free to leave out salami for a vegetarian Italian Pasta Salad, and salami and cheese out for a vegan Italian Pasta Salad.
- Feel free to add cucumbers, peppers, or any other fresh vegetable your family enjoys.
- If you feel your pasta salad is dry, drizzle with a a tablespoon of olive oil before serving.
- Italian Pasta Salad is best served after refrigerating for 4 hours or overnight.
- Pasta Salad can be stored safely for 5 days in your refrigerator. It can not be frozen.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Italian Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces rotini noodles I used High Protein Organic White Wheat Noodles
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup diced jarred roasted red peppers
- 1 small vidalia onion or red onion finely minced
- 6 ounces Hard Salami diced--I used nitrate free
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain well.
- Make the vinaigrette by blending the olive oil, vinegar, capers, salt, garlic, and oregano together until well blended.
- Toss the drained pasta with 1/4 of the red wine vinaigrette and then let cool before adding the remaining dressing.
- Add in the tomatoes, olives, peppers and parsley and toss.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before serving.