Italian pasta salad with fusilli, salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, and a simple vinaigrette is a tried and true summer classic!  This pasta salad bursts with flavor, color, and texture, transports really well, and is so EASY making this a must-have for warm-weather gatherings, big and small.  

Italian pasta salad in white bowl.

 

You’ve been invited to a summer gathering and you’re not sure what to bring.  

You don’t want to spend a ton of money or time, but you still want to bring something fantastic that everyone will love.

If this describes your situation, you need to make Italian pasta salad!

 

This is the pasta salad you’re likely to come across in many New York delis and supermarkets.  It’s full of varying flavors from salami, olives, capers, and vinaigrette.  

And the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fusilli provide an array of textures.

It’s versatile, easy, and goes so well with other summer favorites like New York deli macaroni salad, grilled chicken thighs and steak pinwheels.

So add this Italian-style pasta salad to your summer recipe list. 

In fact, don’t just add it – put it at the TOP!

Ingredients shown: fusilli, tomatoes, Pecorino, parsley, olives, capers, salami, and mozzarella.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1.  Slice the tomatoes or mozzarella balls in half, cube the salami, and slice the olives.  Rinse and drain the capers to remove excess salt.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.  When it’s done, drain it and rinse with cold water to prevent the pasta from cooking further.

Italian pasta salad recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Combine the pasta, mozzarella, salami, tomatoes, capers, and olives in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, Pecorino Romano, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic paste, and minced parsley and whisk together until emulsified.  Alternatively, you can use a food processor or blender.  Taste the dressing and season with salt and pepper if required.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Pour half the dressing on top of the pasta and mix well.  If you need more dressing, add a bit at a time to get the consistency just right.  The remaining dressing can be served on the side or saved in the fridge for a green salad during the week.  Chill for at least 1 hour prior to serving. 

Top tips for perfect Italian pasta salad

  • The pasta.  I used fusilli in this recipe because I love the texture and think it looks great.  You can definitely use other pasta shapes like penne, gemelli, or radiatore if you prefer.  You can also use tri-color fusilli, or even whole wheat or chickpea pasta.  Whichever you use, just be sure to cook it al dente and rinse with the cold water to stop the pasta from cooking further.  Note:  Pasta salads are the only time you will ever want to rinse the pasta to cool it down.  If left hot, the pasta salad will get mushy by the time you bring it to your party or barbecue!
  • The salami.  When purchasing salami for pasta salad, ask the person at the deli counter to slice it thick.  You can ask for it to be 1/4 inch thick, or even thicker if you prefer.  You can omit the salami if you prefer a meatless pasta salad.
  • The cheese.  Fresh mozzarella balls, or ciliegine, were used for this recipe but you can also use a large ball of fresh mozzarella cut into chunks or cubed block mozzarella.
  • The olives.  I love using Gaeta or kalamata olives for this pasta salad but if you can’t find them, use what’s available to you.  Try to get pitted olives (olives w/the pits already removed) to save prep time.
  • Let it chill. I know it can be tempting to eat this salad right away, but it will taste so much better once it’s chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Italian pasta salad in white bowl on wood cutting board.

More super summer sides

Italian pasta salad isn’t the only simple side dish I turn to time and time again.  Here are a few more of our summer must-haves:

If you’ve enjoyed this Italian pasta salad recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

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Italian Pasta Salad

4.91 from 11 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Italian-style pasta salad with fusilli, salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, olives tossed with a simple vinaigrette.

Ingredients 

  • 12 ounces fusilli cooked al dente and rinsed until cold
  • 8 ounces mozzarella balls halved, or cubed block mozzarella
  • 8 ounces thick deli sliced salami cubed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup capers rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup Gaeta olives pitted and sliced, sub Kalamata
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Italian dressing

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley minced
  • 3 cloves garlic paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

For the dressing

  • Combine together all of the dressing ingredients and whisk together until emulsified. Alternatively, use a food processor or blender. Taste test the dressing and season with salt and pepper if required.

For the Italian pasta salad

  • Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, then drain and rinse until cold.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, mozzarella, salami, tomatoes, capers, and olives.
  • Pour half of the dressing on top of the pasta and mix well. If you need more dressing, add a bit at a time to get the consistency just right. The remaining dressing can be served on the side or saved in the fridge for a green salad during the week.
  • The Italian pasta salad flavor will taste much better if chilled for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Chilling for a couple of hours before serving really amps up the flavor.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.6g | Protein: 18.2g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9.3g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 743mg | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1.7g | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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18 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was a hit on a lazy Sunday with the gal pals, they even took some home. The vinaigrette seals the deal!

  2. 5 stars
    Love the tangy take on this salad; it’s different. Also, the oregano brings out a different taste, as well. We liked it very much and are bringing it to a July 4th barbecue today. Next is the spinach/bootie.
    Thanks for the recipes!

    1. Hi LuAnn, I’m so happy you liked the pasta salad and hope you enjoy the spinach gorgonzola one as well! Thanks for the comment and rating!

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Jim, I’ve made a number of your recipes and all were fantastic. My girlfriend is sensitive to raw garlic, however I don’t want to omit a key component. Is their a way, boiling or sautéing to reduce the “bite of the raw garlic? Thanks.

    1. Hi Joe, you can omit the garlic entirely if she’s sensitive to it. I haven’t tested this recipe with cooked garlic since I always use raw for a vinaigrette so I can’t say for sure. Another option would be a bit of garlic powder or granulated garlic if she can tolerate that. Hope that helps and so happy you’re enjoying the recipes!

  4. 5 stars
    This is top notch.

    We adapted it to be vegetarian and added feta which helped us recover all the nice salty flavor you would normally get from the meats. We make this weekly.

    1. Thank you, Louis! So happy you like this one. This is a great one to make vegetarian and love the idea of adding the feta!

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe was perfect for a Memorial Day BBQ. I deleted capers but added red peppers, broccoli, & some minced red onion. Excellent, thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    Another winner. Super simple and delicious. The dressing is so good and has countless other uses.

  7. 5 stars
    Made this for lunch today. Really delicious, and great for the super hot weather we’re having today in DC.