Creamy Italian dressing tossed with garden vegetable pasta, fresh mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, garden herbs, and vegetables. Serve for barbecues, summer holidays, potlucks and as a side dish alongside any main star meal.
Memorial Day is this weekend and it’s the unofficial start of summer across the country. It’s hard to believe June is here and we’re already halfway through the year. Where has the time gone?
With summer parties in full swing, we’re planning our holiday menus with potluck dishes and this creamy Italian Pasta Salad couldn’t be a bigger hit to serve.
HOW TO STORE ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
Pasta that’s stored in the refrigerator tends to pick up a lot of moisture. Because the noodles start dry and then they are hydrated, it will continue to pick up any moisture that it’s coated in. This pasta salad is best served cold, just a few hours after it’s made. However, I’ve made this the day before a party and I’ve had success storing the pasta noodles separate from the dressing. Right before I head out the door with this summer pasta side dish in hand, I toss everything together.
As summer kicks off, I find myself turning to quick dishes that can feed a crowd and this easy pasta dish is perfect for graduation parties, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. We also love it as a side with summer grilled meats like steak, burgers, and chicken. You’ll find the pasta refreshing with cold Italian dressing, fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden herbs.
If you love to entertain or find yourself wanting to bring a dish to pass to a summer party, then you’ll love that this pasta captures the flavors of summer while being a hit among any menu.
Italian pasta salad is not technically Italian. It’s an American dish that’s made with Italian dressing. The pasta gets coated in Italian dressing whether it’s homemade or from a bottle.
HOW TO SERVE PASTA SALAD
Italian Pasta Salad is always served cold. Once the pasta is cooked, it gets cooled under a running faucet of cold water. This step shocks the pasta and prevents it from cooking further. If you’ve ever had soggy or sticky pasta, it’s possible it was cooked too long. This step ensures the pasta is cooked to perfection which in my option, makes for the best pasta salad. The cold wash also rinses off extra starches from the pasta.
I’ve been making this Italian Pasta Salad for 15 years and it’s always the number one side dish requested at family parties. This appetizer takes 20 minutes to prepare and includes simple pantry ingredients to feed a crowd.
Because the flavors of this dish are simple, I like to use garden vegetable pasta noodles to add extra flavor. You’ll find this colorful rotini pasta in the pasta aisle at any grocery store. I think the tri-color pasta elevates this dish and makes it look even more refreshing.
Pasta salad is one of the summers must have side dishes. A good salad deserves bragging rights, and this easy dish is no exception. This dish has been a favorite in my house for many, many years. Summer wouldn’t be complete without a hearty pasta salad full of fresh flavors and bright colors!
Looking for other pasta salad dishes to serve this summer? Try this Caprese Pasta Salad or this fan favorite, BLT Pasta Salad. Of course, no summer is complete without my favorite Loaded Baked Potato Salad recipe!
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces (1 lb.) Garden Rotoni Pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 ounces mozzarella balls
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed
- 10 green onions springs, diced
- 1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds removed for less heat)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup Italian Dressing (use up to 1/4 cup more dressing once pasta absorbs liquid)
- Fill large pot with water and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil then place on stove top over medium-high heat. Cook pasta according to directions ( I cooked mine for 9-10 minutes ) then rinse under cold water and allow water to drain. Meanwhile, chop cherry tomatoes, green onions, cheddar cheese, and jalapeno. Use the seeds of the jalapeno for more added heat or discard if you don't want spicy. In a large bowl, combine pasta with all ingredients and toss to coat. Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If pasta absorbs too much liquid, simply add more dressing. **Italian dressing can also be made with dry packet mix sold in salad dressing aisle. We love to use the dry packet mix with package ingredients!***Making this dish ahead of time? Everything can be combined and stored in the refrigerator, BUT the dressing. Do not add the dressing until ready to serve, if making ahead of time.