Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing)

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Bring this Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) to your next BBQ party and everyone will ask for the secret recipe. A perfect summer side dish, this antipasto salad is loaded with fresh veggies, homemade Italian dressing, and perfectly cooked pasta.

Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) in a blue serving bowl
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Serve at your next summer party with grilled chicken, or meat, and a berry and goat cheese salad.

Why I love this recipe

This Italian pasta salad recipe is light and fresh with plenty of flavors from the marinaded olives and artichokes to the creamy mozzarella balls, crisp bite of the arugula, and sweet ripe cherry tomatoes.

The added crunch from the pine nuts is just enough texture to make this an all around WINNING pasta salad recipe that will be a huge hit whenever you serve it. And make sure to store your pasta salad properly so it will last for a while.

Looking for more delicious Italian summer recipes? Find ideas here: 30 BEST Italian Inspired Summer Recipes.

This was inspired by my other pasta salad recipes. Perfect recipe for your next summer gathering, baby shower, or wedding celebration.

Ingredients for Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe

Only fresh ingredients are used in this easy antipasto pasta salad.

Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) ingredients  photo.

Pasta salad

See the recipe card for quantities. See the variation section for more ideas.

Homemade balsamic dressing (can also use store-bought)

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar (preferably “di Modena”)
  • Dijon mustard (this will make the dressing thicker you can leave it out if desired)
  • Fresh garlic
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Optional Italian seasoning or dried herbs

How to make Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe

My favorite thing about this Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) is how easily it comes together by tossing it all in one big bowl!

Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing)  process for seasoning pasta. ingredients photo.

Cook the pasta in 5 quarts of boiling water seasoned with 2 tablespoons of sea salt until a little past al-dente. Read this article for a complete guide on How to cook pasta perfectly every time.

Since we aren’t adding pasta to a hot sauce to finish cooking we don’t want it too al dente. So, cook it a minute or two longer than you would if you were making hot pasta.

I love all the colors in this antipasto pasta salad!

Place all of your ingredients in a large bowl. Using large salad servers toss all of the ingredients together (you reserve a little of each to sprinkle on top).

The longer you let it sit in the fridge the more flavorful the pasta salad will taste.

It is also important not to overcook the pasta or it will turn mushy after marinating with the dressing for too long. Drain, but do not rinse the pasta.

How to make homemade Italian dressing

Recipe for Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette. This is a super easy homemade vinaigrette. The homemade dressing ingredients are wholesome and fresh.

For this delicious Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) I added Italian herbs to the original dressing recipe you can add, or leave as the original version.

This Italian dressing comes together quickly in a mason jar. This is a simple and authentic and simple homemade Italian dressing.

Substitutions for Balsamic Vinegar – Feel free to use white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar in place of the balasamic vinegar in this pasta salad recipe.

Italian Balsamic Garlic Vinaigrette Dressing

How to store homemade Italian dressing?

The best way to store homemade salad dressing is in a container with a lid with as much air removed as possible and stored in the refrigerator

Here are a few container options I loveglass mason jar dressing mixer bottledressing shaker, and old fashioned glass.

Italian Pasta Salad Variations

Best pasta types for pasta salad

Feel free to switch the pasta shapes. Here is a list of pasta shapes that work well in pasta salads. I recommend short pasta for pasta salads since they match well with the shape and size of other ingredients.

  • Farfalle (bow tie)
  • Elbows
  • Fusilli (rotini)
  • Cavatappi
  • Mezze Rigatoni
  • Gemelli
  • Trottole

You can also make this tortellini pasta salad recipe.

bowl of antipasto pasta salad with a napkin and fork.

Fresh veggies

(add about 1 cup for each veggie and pick up to 3):

  • Canned artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered
  • Canned beans, drained and rinsed
  • Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Celery, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, cut into bite-size pieces and lightly salted
  • Fennel, trimmed, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • Avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into bite-size pieces (add at last minute to prevent darkening)
  • Zucchini, halved lengthwise if small, quartered lengthwise if large, then thinly sliced
  • Bell peppers, cored and cut into bite-size strips or cubes (green bell peppers, red bell peppers, or other varieties)
  • Tomatoes, seeded and cut into medium dice and lightly salted
  • Frozen green peas, thawed

Proteinand cheeses

(add about 1 cup for each protein and pick up to 2):

  • Chicken breasts, grilled, sautéed or steamed and cut crosswise into thin bite-size strips
  • Leftover breaded chicken breasts , cut into bite sized pieces
  • Leftover Italian sausage and peppers
  • Tofu
  • Cooked lobster
  • Cooked and peeled shrimp
  • Canned tuna, drained
  • Mild cheeses (e.g., mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack), cut into ½-inch cubes

Italian meats (sliced ¼-inch thick and cut into bite-size strips):

  • salami
  • prosciutto
  • sopressata
  • capicola
  • mortadella
  • coppa

Unique flavors

These flavors add a unique twist to your pasta salad dish. (add about ½ cup) 

  • Spicy Salami, sliced and quartered (or other Italian meats)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Parmesan, shaved 
  • Goat cheese, crumbled
  • Capers, drained (¼ cup)
  • Green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped  
  • Red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • Pepperoncini, drained and thinly sliced
  • Roasted red peppers, cut into strips
  • Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into small dice
  • Bacon, fried and crumbled (8 ounces)
  • Prosciutto (8 ounces), thinly sliced, cut into small- medium dice
  • Smoked salmon (8 ounces), thinly sliced, cut into small- medium  dice
  • Pine nuts, raw or toasted

Add-ons and spices

Hints of fresh herbs and citrus zest help brighten the pasta salad recipe and make it unique. Add about 3 tablespoons herbs, 2 tablespoons zest.

  • Parsley 
  • Italian seasoning
  • Garlic, finely diced
  • Shallots, finely chopped
  • Lemon, lime, or orange zest
antipasto pasta salad serving bowl and individual bowl with fork.

How to assemble pasta salad

  • Prepare the dressing and let it sit for the flavors to marry. Skip if you are using store-bought dressing. 
  • Cook pasta until al dente and toss with some of the dressing. Let cool. 
  • Prepare the veggies. Try to keep veggies about the same size or a little larger than the pasta variety you are using. 
  • Prepare the proteins. Try to cut protein into bite-sized pieces so it is easy to eat. We don’t want to use a knife for pasta salad! 
  • Prepare Cheeses. Cubes are fun for cheese or use round mozzarella balls for different shape and texture. 
  • Prepare the add-ons, herbs, and zest. 
  • Toss the pasta with the rest of the dressing and ingredients. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours; 24 hours is recommended.

Storage

BEST STORAGE CONTAINERS FOR LEFTOVER PASTA

Here are a few airtight containers that work well for storing leftover pasta salad, pasta dishes, and more: Pyrex different sizesSnapware different sizesGlasslock oven safe, and Rubbermaid Takealongs. Any airtight container will do! Pasta salad tastes even better the next day.

This post contains affiliated Amazon affiliate links.

What to serve with pasta salad

Pasta salad is the perfect side dish for Dad’s Famous Dry Rub Beef Ribs (EASY), Grilled Beef Tri-Tip Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, or Dad’s Secret Meat and Fish Marinade. You can also serve it for lunch with a side of homemade bread.

Don’t forget dessert! Try these easy no-bake desserts: Creamy Frozen Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust, or Honey Panna Cotta Italian Recipe (Easy).

More Italian recipes for you

Pasta Salad FAQ’s

Can I make pasta salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! That’s the best part. Enjoy this pasta salad at room temperature or cold. Yes, you can make this pasta salad two hours ahead of time. Let it sit on the counter (toss well before serving). Or, try making it a couple of days in advance and store in the fridge. This pasta salad will be the favorite side at your next BBQ or gathering!

Do you rinse pasta for pasta salad?

Do not rinse the pasta for cold pasta salad. It will strip the starches and make the oily dressing slide off the pasta. Instead- toss with 1/2 cup (not more) of the dressing, combine in a large shallow bowl and let cool before tossing in the fresh ingredients. Coat just so the pasta doesn’t stick together.

What is an antipasto salad made of?

Traditional Italian antipasto platters do not contain pasta. This dish takes all of the loved vegetarian ingredients of antipasto platter and adds pasta and homemade Italian dressing for the perfect pasta salad combo!

What does antipasto mean in Italian?

The word “antipasto” is derived from the Latin root “anti” meaning “before” and “pastus,” which means “meal.  Thus, the antipasto course simply refers to the dish that precedes all others. This salad adds pasta with traditional Italian “antipasto” ingredients (minus the cured meats).

antipasto pasta salad serving bowl and individual bowl with fork.

Bring this colorful antipasto pasta salad and it will surely be everyones new favorite pasta salad!

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) in a bowl with a fork.

Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing)

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5 from 3 reviews

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This Antipasto Pasta Salad Recipe (with Italian Dressing) to your next BBQ party and everyone will asl for the secret recipe. A perfect summer side dish, this antipasto salad is loaded with fresh veggies, homemade Italian dressing, and perfectly cooked pasta.

  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or cook slightly more than al dente.
  2. Drain pasta, do not rinse, and toss with ½ cup of the prepared dressing in a large shallow bowl. Let cool for at least 15 minutes until pasta reaches room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile chop all the veggies and prepare the basil. Add the veggies, antipasti, mozzarella, pine nuts and basil to a large mixing bowl. Add pasta and the rest of the dressing and stir to combine. Season with extra pepper and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.
  4. Let cool in the fridge covered for several hours before serving. Toss again before serving and enjoy!
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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4 Comments

  1. Delicious salad. I did have to add more dressing. I will make 1-1/2 recipe of the vinaigrette next time. I also added a lot of fresh lemon juice. I will make it again!