Enjoy the flavors of an antipasto platter in pasta form with this easy and delicious recipe for Antipasto Pasta Salad. Bursting with flavor from the olives, salami, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, sweet onions, and a simple homemade red wine vinaigrette, this pasta salad is anything but boring.
When it comes to pasta salad, there are endless varieties, but my all time favorite recipe for pasta salad is Antipasto Pasta Salad. Along with my Papa's Baked Beans, it is my most requested side dish for summer potlucks and gatherings.
And with good reason!
Instead of being heavy or lack-luster in flavor, this Antipasto Pasta Salad is packed with flavor and is always an unexpected, yet welcome addition to any gathering. Made with a tangy homemade vinagrette, tons of vegetables, salami, and briny olives, this is one pasta salad that leaves a lasting impression on your taste buds--and it happens to be quite simple to make!
Notes on Ingredients
- Noodles: You can use any variety of noodles you like, but I do recommend selecting a type of noodle that has twists and curves. That will help the pasta to hold on to the dressing and toppings, ensuring each bite is full of flavor. Rotini, elbow, or cavtappi noodles are all great options. You can also opt to use cheese stuffed toretllini, for a more substantial, cheesy pasta salad.
- Red Wine Vinaigrette: This simple pasta salad dressing is made with red wine vinegar, olive oil, capers, garlic, and oregano. It is salty, acidic, and adds incredible depth of flavor to the pasta salad.
- Olives: I opt for a combination of Spanish and Kalamative olives, as they have the richest flavor. Use all Spanish olives or all kalamative olive instead of a combination if desired. I don't recommend using canned black olives, as the flavor is not as good.
- Roasted Red Peppers: Roasted red peppers add a nice texture and smokey element to the pasta salad.
- Cherry/Grape Tomatoes: I recommend using grape or cherry tomatoes when making pasta salad, as their flavor is good year round, they are already bite-sized, and their seeds don't water down the pasta salad. If you opt to use vine-ripened tomatoes, be sure to deseed the tomatoes before chopping to keep the pasta salad from becoming watery.
- Onions: Use a red or Vidalia onion. White or yellow onions can be used, but have a much stronger taste and can overwhelm some of the delicate flavors. I would only half a white or yellow onion if you opt to use one of those varieties.
- Pepperoni/Salami: Mini pepperoni or cubed salami, makes a hearty, flavorful addition to the pasta salad. Feel free to leave the meat out for a vegetarian-friendly side dish.
- Optional Additions: Anything you would find on a classic antipasto platter is a welcome addition to in this pasta salad. Cubed cheese, fresh mozzarella balls, fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, or pickled cauliflower are all great additional options.
How to Make Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Season heavily will salt and then cook the pasta according to the package directions, choosing the longest suggested cook time.
- While the pasta cooks, use this time to prepare the red wine vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients for the dressing into a blender or small food processor and blend until the capers are broken down and combined into the dressing.
- Once the pasta has cooked, drain the noodles, but do not rinse!! Rinsing the pasta removes all the starch that helps the dressing stick to the pasta, not to mention the actual flavor of the pasta itself.
- Immediately after draining the pasta, toss the cooked pasta with ¼ cup of the prepared dressing. The pasta will soak up the dressing as it cools, allowing the noodles to absorb the flavor of the dressing.
- Let the pasta cool to room temperature before adding the remaining dressing. Do NOT be tempted to add the remaining dressing before the pasta has cooled fully. This will cause the noodles to absorb all the dressing immediately and the pasta salad will become dried out. You can speed the process of cooling the pasta up by spreading the noodles out on a sheet pan.
- Once the noodles are room temperature, add in the remaining viniagrette, olives, tomatoes, onions, parsley, peppers, and salami.
- Toss everything together to evenly incorporate the pasta salad.
- Cover the Antipasto Pasta Salad and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to really come together.
Pasta salad is a dish that needs to be made in advance, to give the flavors time to develop, making it a great make-ahead recipe for a party or picnic.
While ready to enjoy after 4 hours of refrigeration, the pasta salad will taste even better if made 12-24 hours in advance. However, I recommend not preparing more than 24 hours before you intend to serve, for the best flavor and so that the pasta salad does not begin to dry out.
As pasta stills in the refrigerator, the noodles can absorb all the dressing. If you feel that your pasta salad is dry, add ½ tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss again before serving.
This Antipasto Pasta Salad is easy to make and incredibly delicious. It pairs beautifully with Chicken Burgers, Grilled Greek Chicken, or Instant Pot Ribs for an easy, summer meal. It also makes a perfect addition ot any potlucks or picnics, especially when paired alongside one of the following summer side dishes.
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Old Fashioned Baked Beans
If you enjoyed this Antipasto Pasta Salad, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Antipasto Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces rotini noodles
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup sliced Spanish olives
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives pitted and halved
- ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers chopped
- 1 small vidalia onion or red onion finely minced
- 6 ounces diced hard salami or pepperoni
- ¼ cup minced parsley
Red Wine Vinaigrette
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and salt well. Cook the pasta according to directions, choosing the longest suggested cook time. Drain well, but do not rinse the noodles.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing by blending the olive oil, vinegar, capers, salt, garlic, and oregano together in a blender or small food processor until well combined.
- Toss the drained pasta with ¼ cup of the red wine vinaigrette and then let cool to room temperature before adding the remaining dressing or ingredients.
- Once the pasta is cooled, add the remaining dressing, tomatoes, olives, peppers, salami, and parsley, and toss well to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before serving.
Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah's Cucina Bella)
What great memories. Memorial Day for me was similar growing up, and I still adore coleslaw, pasta salad and a platter of veggies at every cookout. This pasta salad looks divine!
Oh yes, we had the platter of veggies too with dill dip, always dill dip! Such great memories!
susan / the wimpy vegetarian
This looks delicious!
Shashi @ RunninSrilankan
Am so glad that you twaked (which I always seem to confuse with twerked) your mom's recipe, because, Kristen, this salad filled with olives, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, sweet onions, and a red wine vinaigrette made with capers is simply jam-packed with flavor! Wow! Memorial Day 2017, I'm inviting myself over! 🙂
Tweeked, twerked, I get the picture 🙂 And you are always welcome!
This is a perfect summer side dish! So colorful and pretty too!
Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor
Such a perfect side salad for summer! I love antipasto salad and need to try this recipe soon.
I hope you do give this a try very soon Ashley!
Liz @ Books n' Cooks
I always get excited when I see antipasto pasta salad at picnics - but yours looks so much lighter than most. Love it!
Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm
This is the great thing about potlucks. You can take a dish, tweak it and make it your own. Don't like something? omit it. Love something? add it. Life is good.
Exactly!! Pot lucks are the best!
Kristin @ Dizzy Busy and Hungry
So fresh looking and such vibrant colors! This is a great summer salad!
All my favorite add-ins for pasta salad!! So yummy!
You and me both 🙂
Nancy P. | The Bitter Side of Sweet
This is one of my favorite pasta salads!