Antipasto Pasta Salad is loaded with salami, mozzarella, black olives, artichokes, pepperoncini peppers and cherry tomatoes! A simple, yet vibrant oil and vinegar dressing is the perfect finish for this Italian-inspired pasta salad.
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Summer is officially here! We’re in the thick of backyard BBQ and picnic season, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it… Because this is when I make all of my favorite pasta salad recipes! I love a good cookout, and I’ve found that nothing pleases a crowd quite like this super quick and easy antipasto pasta salad.
Tender bites of rotini (or fusilli) pasta are tossed together with bold ingredients like salami, mozzarella pearls, black olives and more. It’s all of the classic flavors of antipasto tossed together in a simple pasta salad! What holds it all together so well is a vinegar and oil dressing that really makes all of the different flavors sing.
It’ll take you less than thirty minutes to prepare this pasta salad recipe. The only step that will require a little bit of patience is the refrigeration – you’ll want to let the ingredients chill for about 2 hours prior to tossing with dressing and serving. That way everything will be chilled and refreshing, which is when this Italian pasta salad is really at its best!
Pasta – I recommend using rotini or fusilli, as both are smaller shaped pastas that grip the dressing very well.
Black Olives – Always make sure to fully drain black olives prior to tossing them into your recipes.
Pepperoncini Peppers – You can swap these with banana peppers if preferred.
Cherry Tomatoes – Grape tomatoes will also work well.
Mozzarella – I like to use mozzarella pearls, but you can slice fresh mozzarella into small pieces if preferred.
Olive Oil – As one of the key ingredients of the dressing, it’s important to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil that has a nice flavor.
Balsamic Vinegar – You can use my favorite balsamic vinaigrette recipe here for the most flavorful results!
Italian Seasoning – Most Italian seasonings on the market have the same general mix of basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and sage. I also like to add parsley and thyme. So grab as many of these herbs as you have in your pantry and mix them about 1/2 tsp each.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make Antipasto Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and cool completely before mixing in the other ingredients.
Prepare the other ingredients. While pasta is cooking, that’s a good time to chop all other ingredients! Once you have cooled pasta, all you have to do is combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl except for the dressing. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Make the dressing. Mix all of the ingredients in a mason jar, close it, and shake it vigorously. When you’re ready to serve the salad, pour dressing over the pasta salad and mix well.
Serve. Serve the pasta right away and enjoy!
Antipasto is a traditional Italian dish that comes at the beginning of the meal. You will most often find ingredients like cured meats, cheeses, olives, pepperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and fresh garden vegetables. It is usually spread on a platter with a drizzle or a side of oil and vinegar.
Here’s the deal… you can definitely buy a container of Balsamic Vinaigrette (or an Italian dressing) and make it nice and easy. Or, you can shake up a few ingredients in just a couple of minutes right at home and have it taste so much better! This homemade dressing recipe is SO simple and uses inexpensive pantry staples that you may already have on hand. And remember, the better balsamic vinegar you get, the better the whole dish will taste.
Most Italian seasonings on the market have the same general mix of basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and sage. I also like to add parsley and thyme. So grab as many of these herbs as you have in your pantry and mix them about 1/2 tsp each. (Although, I find rosemary a bit overwhelming so I add less rosemary than others.)
The main ingredients here that contains gluten is the pasta. Use your favorite gluten free pasta instead.
Remember, leftover gluten free pasta dries quicker so make sure to eat the leftovers within 1 day, or two at the most. You WILL need to add more dressing so make extra and store it separately!
Some deli meats also contain gluten, make sure to get gluten free deli meats.
Remaining ingredients should already be gluten free but as always, double check the packaging before buying.
Make Ahead and Storing Suggestions
You can definitely make pasta salad ahead of time just DO NOT mix it with dressing. You can mix all of the ingredients for the pasta salad and the mix ingredients for the dressing in a separate containers. Pasta tends to soak up oil and vinegar like a sponge so if you dress is ahead of time, the salad will be dry. To make sure your pasta salad is not dry, mix in the dressing right before serving.
So make the pasta salad and the dressing ahead of time about 1 day before. Store them separately in the refrigerator and mix together before serving.
Store leftover pasta salad in an air-tight food storage container, in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it should last for 2-3 days. Pasta will soak up a lot of the dressing so you can always add more dressing when enjoying the leftovers.
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Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 lb rotini or fusilli
- 2.25 oz sliced black olives drained
- 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers can substitute banana peppers
- 1 1/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 8 oz chopped artichoke hearts
- 8 oz chopped salami
- 8 oz mini fresh mozzarella cheese balls or chopped fresh mozzarella
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning*
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp salt more or less to taste
- Cook pasta in salted water according to the package instructions, drain, and cool completely before mixing in the other ingredients.
- Dice all the other ingredients for pasta salad while pasta is cooking and cooling.
- Combine pasta, cheese, salami, olives, artichokes, peppers, and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- In a small jar with a lid, combine oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Pour over the pasta salad and mix everything together.
- Serve right away.
Make this salad without the dressing the day before and store it covered in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend making it any more than 1 day before to that tomatoes don’t get wilted and other ingredients stay fresh. Store: store leftover pasta salad in an air-tight food storage container, in the refrigerator. Pasta will soak up a lot of the dressing so you can always add more dressing when enjoying the leftovers.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in June 2012.