This post is sponsored by Ibotta, all opinions are my own.
Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad is the pasta salad of summer. A beautiful rainbow of color, flavor, and texture. This pasta salad is simple to put together, so flavorful, and a potluck favorite. With fresh herbs and veggies, cheeses, and meats, all tossed together in a homemade vinaigrette, this is the pasta salad dreams are made of. Plus ways to earn cash back with Ibotta.
I love a good antipasto platter, with all the cured meats and cheeses, marinated vegetables and olives. Think of that, and add pasta, plus an herby vinaigrette that is tangy, tasty, and so easy to make, and that is what you get with this dish.
Serve it with grilled chicken, or make it a main, you really can’t go wrong here.
This colorful antipasto pasta salad is the perfect way to use up leftover antipasto, or to impress guests and family with a tasty dish. It is incredibly quick and easy too make, and even easier to eat!
Let’s talk about the flavor: You have the perfect mixture of sweet, savory, spicy ingredients, the heartiness of pasta, and the flavor impact you get from an herby Italian vinaigrette. It’s incredibly customizable, and easy to make substitutions based on what you like, or merely what you have on hand,
To say I love this recipe is an understatement, and when I combine it with purchasing my groceries and earning cash back with the Ibotta app, I love it even more. Because not only does it taste amazing, but I earn cash back on all the ingredients by using the Ibotta app, web extension, or simply uploading my receipts after I shop. Win-win!
What Is Antipasto?
Earning cash back on the ingredients is easy with Ibotta. But let’s talk about what these are, and why we love them. Antipasto is typically the first course of a formal Italian meal. It is like the appetizer. But they do it right with marinated vegetables, cheeses, salami and salumi, etc. They are all laid out on a platter, and guests serve themselves.
I am taking that concept, and many of the ingredients, and adding pasta and vinaigrette to get the same satisfaction and flavor in a fun pasta salad.
It is the perfect light lunch or a healthy side dish, and ideal for summer.
What You Need to Make Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
Ok, so let’s get into what you will be adding to your grocery list and earning cash back on with Ibotta:
- Rotini pasta– You can totally substitute a different short pasta here. I love rotini because the spiral in it collects that yummy vinaigrette and helps distribute the flavor. But use what you have, or whatever your favorite pasta is.
- Fresh parsley, basil, and chives: These fresh herbs add SO MUCH FLAVOR. And should not be skipped. But the nice thing is you can substitute if you want. I sometimes even love to add a little mint in to add more fun!
- Grape tomatoes: deliciously sweet and bite sized, but I still halve them to distribute them throughout and allow for more variety in each bite.
- Fresh mozzarella cheese balls: Yum! You can also add bits of parmesan, or any other cheese cubes or bites you love.
- Green bell pepper: Obviously feel free to substitute another bell pepper color, or mini peppers, or leave it out entirely. You can also use roasted red peppers that are marinated for a fun option.
- Salami or summer sausage: Pick your favorite flavor, and cube it up to add in.
- Kalamata olives: They add such a nice brine-y addition to the pasta salad, but can be subbed for green olives or if you are in a pinch, black olives work too.
- Pepperoncini: My only tip here is to dice them up some if you have big rings, so you can better distribute the incredible flavor they add to this pasta salad.
- Red onion: A delicious addition.
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Coarse sea salt
- Italian seasoning
- Dried basil
- Parmesan cheese
What Kind of Pasta Is Best for Pasta Salad?
So I mentioned several substitution options. I know when I am shopping with my Ibotta app, I will sometimes purchase a new brand, or a variation on a product/ingredient because I like the cash back offer. And this pasta salad is the perfect recipe for this because it is SO customizable.
So, let’s talk pasta substitutions. While Rotini is my favorite, you can change it up. You can use penne, or bow tie, or ziti, or rigatoni, or even elbow noodles. Just be sure to avoid anything long, like spaghetti or linguini. Instead, stick to the shorter noodles that make eating your salad easier. Basically, it should be easy to pick up with a fork, and load with the other bits of antipasto so you get a nice bite.
How to Make Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
Let’s talk about how to make antipasto pasta salad. As is. No subs.
This is the perfect quick fix pasta salad dish that requires no cook time other than the noodles, and can even be partially made ahead to make potlucks and dinners even easier.
Basically it is full of flavor and color, and really all you do is mix up that herby parmesan vinaigrette, and make some pasta, then toss everything together. This could not be easier to pull off. And is sure to be the new favorite pasta salad.
Step One: Buy Ingredients
Head to your local grocery store, use online grocery ordering, or whatever way you usually get your groceries to gather everything you need for this delicious dish. Just don’t forget that when you use Ibotta, you get cash back on everyday purchases from stores you are already shopping at. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of that when buying ingredients for this pasta salad?
I picked up everything at Walmart, then just scanned my receipt after. So eazy peazy!
Step two: Make dressing
In a jar, add all dressing ingredients, and shake together, set aside.
Step Three: Cook Pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, drain, toss with 2 Tbs of dressing mixture to prevent pasta from sticking. Set aside.
Step Four: Prep The Rest
Prep all ingredients, cutting into even sized pieces, for easier eating.
Step Five: Combine and Make Magic!
Add all of the pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl, and dress with ⅔ of the remaining dressing. Toss to combine. Taste, and add more dressing if desired, or keep remaining dressing to refresh leftovers. Serve and enjoy. (Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.)
Tips and Tricks for making Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
Making this recipe is Eazy Peazy but here are some helpful tips and tricks so it goes smoothly every time…
- Drain Pasta Well: The parmesan vinaigrette is magic in a bottle, but won’t be nearly as good if it gets watered down, so be sure to completely drain the pasta before you add it to the rest.
- Make Substitutions: One of the best things about this is that it is totally customizable, so if you like summer sausage more than salami, make the change. If you hate tomatoes, leave them out. If you want to add marinated mushrooms, or artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers, do it! Adjust this whole thing to your taste and preference, adding your favorite cheeses, meats, veggies, and noodles to make it your own.
- Chill Well: One of the things I love about this salad is how well the flavors combine, and I find chilling it for a couple hours before serving gives it just the right amount of time for those flavors to really meld, giving you the perfect salad. So plan ahead.
- Chop Chop: One thing I have noticed, is when it comes to pasta salad, having the ingredients be relatively the same size really helps make it taste better. Why? Because then instead of a mouthful of red onion, you get to enjoy all the flavors. So chop the meats and cheeses and veggies to roughly the same size, and make the stronger ingredients, like the onions a little smaller so each bite is perfect.
Make Ahead and Storage
How to make this recipe ahead of time:
- Prep dressing and store in an airtight container.
- Cook noodles and toss with just a little dressing so they don’t stick, but also won’t get soggy.
- Cut and prep all the rest.
- Store separately, then toss together a couple hours before serving.
Or make ahead, and store in the fridge, stir it up right before serving, taste, and adjust salt and pepper or add more dressing as needed.
Leftovers: To store leftover pasta salad, keep it in a covered, air tight, container in the fridge. It’ll last for about 5 days and gets better with time. Do not freeze.
This pasta salad makes a hearty and flavorful meal on its own, but it makes a fun side, so here are a few fun ways to serve it:
- Serve with Garlic Bread or Twists: There is just something about serving this pasta salad with garlic bread twists or garlic bread that make it feel like a whole meal. And oh my gosh, the flavors. Yum!
- Add More Ingredients: Really amp up the heartiness with toasted nuts, marinated veggies, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, etc.
- Serve with Chicken: While this has salami in it, it makes a great side to a grilled chicken. Try it with one of these delicious chicken recipes:
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- 1 pound uncooked rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped fine
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped fine
- ¼ cup fresh chives
- 3 cups grape tomatoes halved
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese balls halved
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 lb. salami or summer sausage cubed
- 3/4 cup kalamata olives sliced
- 3/4 cup pepperoncini sliced
- 1/2 cup red onion sliced
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- In a jar, add all dressing ingredients, and shake together, set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, drain, toss with 2 Tbs of dressing mixture to prevent pasta from sticking. Set aside.
- Prep all ingredients, cutting into even sized pieces, for easier eating.
- Add all of the pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl, and dress with ⅔ of the remaining dressing. Toss to combine.
- Taste, and add more dressing if desired, or keep remaining dressing to refresh leftovers.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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