Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing is a must make for any occasion! A summer classic loaded with cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, Italian ham, mozzarella, and fresh basil.
Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing is an essential for summer picnics, BBQ parties, and potlucks but also tastes great for lunch or as a quick weeknight meal! My family loves it for dinner in the warmer months. This delicious salad is so easy to make from scratch and can be prepared in advance. It tastes great on the same day but I think it tastes even better on the next day!
My classic Italian pasta salad is made with a homemade Italian dressing instead of mayo and tastes fresh and light – perfect for summer. The easy vinaigrette dressing is super flavorful and would also taste great with a fresh green salad. It’s my go-to Italian dressing!
This pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing is perfect for big gatherings. It makes enough to feed a crowd and is easy to prep in advance. A flavorful summer salad that everyone loves!
Tips and Tricks for making Italian Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
- I always use Italian-style ham for this salad. Prosciutto Cotto is an Italian cooked ham that’s not as salty as American ham. But if you can’t find Italian ham any cooked ham will work.
- Roasted Pine Nuts give this salad a flavor kick. I love the taste but they can be quite pricey. You can substitute them with chopped walnuts, pecans, or leave them out if you can’t eat nuts.
- You can make this pasta salad a few hours or a day in advance. Store it in the fridge and give it a good toss before serving.
- Here are a few more tasty add-ins for this pasta salad: Arugula (add it just before serving), (spicy) salami or summer sausage instead of ham, green or red bell pepper, olives, chopped red onion.
Are you looking for more Summer side dishes?
- Authentic German Potato Salad: This potato salad is made without mayo and has lots of bacon in it.
- 20-minute Greek Couscous Salad: A flavorful Greek salad made with couscous instead of green salad.
- Tzatziki Sauce Recipe: This sauce is perfect for a BBQ! It tastes great with meat but also makes a delicious dip.
- Tomato Mango Salsa: Sweet, spicy, and so delicious! I could eat the whole bowl and it’s so easy to make.
- Bavarian Wurst Salad with Cheese: You can get this easy Bavarian summer “salad” in every Biergarten!
Check out my Summer Recipes Category for more delicious recipes for the warmer months.
What tools and products I recommend for making this Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Italian Pasta: This is my favorite brand of pasta for everyday use! I like to use Farfalle pasta for my pasta salad but you can also use Penne, Rotini, Elbow, or any pasta shape you like for your pasta salad.
Dressing Shaker: A dressing shaker makes measuring and mixing vinaigrette dressing so much easier.
Pine Nuts: These small nuts are so flavorful and taste even better when you roast them until they are golden brown.
Balsamic Vinegar: A high-quality balsamic vinegar is a kitchen must have! I always have two kinds in my pantry, a cheaper one for cooking and a high-quality one for salads where you can really taste the flavor. When buying balsamic vinegar make sure that it has no added caramels, flavors, or preservatives.
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Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
For the Dressing:
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp basil pesto
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 lb farfalle pasta or other pasta of choice
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls, halved
- ⅓ cup diced dried tomatoes
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 8 oz Italian style ham, diced into 0.5" cubes
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup basil leaves
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar or dressing shaker and shake well until combined. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to packet directions until al dente. Drain cooked pasta and rinse under cold water. Transfer cooked pasta into large bowl.
- Roast pine nuts at medium heat until they're golden brown and smell flavorful. Add to the pasta.
- Add remaining pasta salad ingredients and drizzle over the dressing. Toss until combined. Serve at room temperature or store in the fridge until you want to serve it. This salad tastes great on the next day!