This is the end of your search for an Italian pasta salad, because it’s simply the best. This is an heirloom recipe from my family, passed down for generations! It’s full of fresh crunchy vegetables, briny olives, salty feta, a zesty Italian dressing, and buttery noodles. You’re going to love it and I bet it becomes your family recipe, too.

Top view of a large bowl of Italian pasta salad.


Italian pasta salad is a cold pasta dish made with leftover pasta (or pasta that’s just been made ahead), a plethora of crunchy veggies (my favorites are all listed below!), a crumble of feta cheese, and your favorite Italian dressing to coat it all. This is a great salad to make ahead! It will keep for several days in the fridge, making it an ideal dish to prep before a big gathering.

Ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad

This ingredient list is chock-full of fresh, crunchy veggies! Find the full list (plus any notes + applicable substitutions) below. Exact ingredient amounts can be found in the recipe card.

All of the ingredients for an Italian pasta salad on a marble surface.

For the Pasta Salad

  • Bowtie pasta – fusilli, rotini, and elbow macaroni would all work great here too
  • Diced veggies – this recipe calls for carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, red onion, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and green bell pepper.
  • Black olives
  • Crumbled feta – swap for parmesan cheese, if you’d prefer.

For the Dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice – fresh lemon juice is a must!
  • Honey
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt + ground black pepper

Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions

This recipe is really simple! The bulk of your time and effort will be spent chopping the veggies. Once you’ve got that out of the way, you’ll make the dressing and then mix everything together!

Bowtie pasta in a large metal bowl.
All of the chopped veggie ingredients for an Italian pasta salad in separate little white bowls on a marble surface.
All of the ingredients for an Italian pasta salad in a large metal bowl.
A person pouring homemade dressing into a large metal bowl to make Italian pasta salad.
A top view of all of the ingredients for Italian pasta salad in a metal bowl.
Top view of Italian pasta salad in a large metal bowl.
  1. Boil the pasta – cook the pasta according to package instructions. Once done, drain and rinse the pasta with cold water, and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the veggies and feta – add the chopped veggies and crumbled feta to the bowl with the noodles.
  3. Make the dressing – add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together until fully combined. Pour over the veggies and pasta and toss to combine.
  4. Garnish and serve – garnish the pasta salad with fresh chopped parsley, serve chilled, and enjoy!

Recipe Variations

  • Add protein – if you’re itching to sneak a little bit of protein into this pasta salad, diced or sliced salami would be a delicious addition.
  • Switch up the veggies – if you don’t have (or don’t like) a veggie on our list, feel free to swap it with something else or just scrap it altogether. This pasta salad is SO forgiving.

How to Serve

Italian pasta salad is a versatile dish that can be served in a bunch of different ways! Here are some ideas:

  • It’s perfect as a side dish to alongside grilled steak or as a main dish for a light lunch or dinner.
  • Serve this pasta salad as a potluck or party dish at the next barbecue or gathering you go to!
  • Pair it with some crusty bread and a glass of chilled white wine for a complete Italian-inspired meal.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Know that the longer you wait to enjoy the leftovers, the higher the risk for soggy veggies!

Top view of a large bowl of Italian pasta salad.

What kind of pasta is best for Italian pasta salad?

This recipe calls for bowtie (farfalle) pasta, but truly, any short noodle would work perfectly. Elbow macaroni, fusilli, rotini, penne, you name it!

Can I make Italian pasta salad in advance?

If you want to make this pasta salad in advance, we’d actually recommend prepping the ingredients (chopping the veggies and making the dressing) in advance, but waiting to boil the noodles and mix everything together until the day you’re planning on serving it. This will ensure the very best texture!

How do I prevent the pasta from getting mushy in the salad?

There are a few ways to keep your pasta from getting mushy!

  1. Cook the pasta al dente – it’s essential to only cook the pasta until it’s al dente (cooked through but still firm to the bite). Overcooked pasta will become too soft and absorb too much dressing, resulting in a mushy texture. Your pasta box will give al dente timing instructions!
  2. Rinse the pasta – after cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold running water to stop the cooking process and remove any excess starch. This will help the pasta maintain its texture and prevent it from sticking together.
  3. Toss with dressing just before serving – dressing can soften the pasta, especially if it’s added too early. To prevent this, add the dressing just before serving and toss the pasta salad well to ensure that the dressing is evenly distributed. If you want to make your pasta salad ahead of time, wait to add the dressing until just before serving.
Top view of a large bowl of Italian pasta salad.

More Favorite Summer Sides

Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

4.34 — Votes 15 votes
By Cassy Joy Garcia
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
This Italian Pasta Salad is full of fresh crunchy vegetables, briny olives, salty feta, a zesty Italian dressing, and buttery noodles.

Ingredients  

For the Pasta Salad

  • 12 ounces bowtie pasta
  • 1 cup celery diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup carrots diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cauliflower diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup red onion diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup black olives sliced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup green bell pepper diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) crumbled feta

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Cook the pasta according to the package. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water. Add the pasta to a large bowl with all of the veggies and the feta.
  • Whisk together the dressing in a medium size bowl. Pour over the veggies and pasta and toss to combine.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve chilled.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Variations
  • Add protein – if you’re itching to sneak a little bit of protein into this pasta salad, diced or sliced salami would be a delicious addition.
  • Switch up the veggies – if you don’t have (or don’t like) a veggie on our list, feel free to swap it with something else or just scrap it altogether. This pasta salad is SO forgiving.

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 753mg | Potassium: 471mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3719IU | Vitamin C: 99mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Italian-Inspired
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 393
Keyword: pasta salad

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Brandi Schilhab


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2 Comments

  1. This salad looks wonderful but unfortunately I have to be gluten-free. I’m new to gluten-free and haven’t tried the pasta in a salad yet. Have you had any lucky with using a gluten free pasta with the salad?

    1. Hi Kelly! Cassy is completely gluten-free, so everything we make is too! We used Barilla’s gluten-free pasta for this recipe. I hope that helps!