This zesty cold pasta salad is a refreshing side that complements many meals! It is a quick and easy recipe to prepare and can be made a full day before you need it making it the perfect pasta salad when you're in a hurry!
Why Choose This Recipe
- An easy recipe made from simple ingredients for a flavorful Italian pasta salad!
- Perfect side dish for a summer BBQ, potlucks, and family gatherings!
- Can be made a day ahead for a quick side for the next day!
- Italian Dressing - Olive Garden brand dressing is preferable, but other brands may be used. You can buy it or Make Your Own. I've used Kraft's zesty Italian dressing, too!
- Rotini - Tri-color, regular, or even spinach rotini works great!
- Pepperoni - If you can't find the minis, just cut up regular-sized pepperoni into bite-sized pieces.
- Mozzarella - Cubed fresh mozzarella cheese off the block works too!
- Black Olives - You can use a can or two of pre-sliced olives.
- Green Bell Pepper - I've substituted other colors of bell peppers or even done a mix of different kinds.
Step by Step Instructions
- Cook garden rotini al dente according to package directions.
- Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Dump the cooled pasta in a large bowl.
- Slice, dice, and measure the other ingredients.
- Add mozzarella slices to the mixing bowl.
- Add chopped green peppers.
- Add chopped red onion.
- Add sliced olives.
- Add mini Pepperoni.
- Add chopped roasted red pepper.
- Mix well.
- Pour ⅔rds the Italian dressing over the pasta salad.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container.
- Put in the fridge to allow all the delicious flavors to blend, and pour other half of the dressing over the salad right before serving.
- You can garnish you're cold salad with fresh parsley or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Recipe FAQs and Expert Tips
Yes, yes, yes. Rinsing the hot pasta in cold water until it's cooled stops the cooking process. No one wants mushy, overcooked pasta salad.
Yes, you can! I usually make this one a full day ahead of serving so the ingredients have plenty of time to blend their flavors!
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Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
- 16 oz Garden Rotini 16 oz. Box
- 7.6 oz Sliced Olives 2 x 3.8 oz Cans
- 2 ½ oz Mini Pepperoni Half of 5 oz. Bag
- 3 Quality Mozzarella String cheese Sticks sliced into thin discs
- ¾ -1 Cup Chopped Green Bell Pepper
- ½-3/4 Cup Chopped Red Onion
- 8-16 oz Roasted Red Peppers Half to whole 16 oz Jar, chopped up
- 16 oz Olive Garden Italian Dressing 16 oz. Bottle
- Chop, slice, and dice the ingredients while you bring a pot of water to a boil to cook your pasta.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Put the cooked rotini, sliced olives, ½ the bag of pepperoni, mozzarella discs, chopped green pepper, red onions, and roasted red peppers in a large mixing bowl. Toss to mix.
- Pour about ⅔s of the Italian Dressing over the pasta salad. Toss to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to blend.
- Before serving, pour the remaining Italian dressing over the pasta salad and mix well.
- I like to make this salad a full day before we are going to eat it to allow plenty of time for the flavors to blend. I also flip the bowl upside down, leave it for a couple of hours, and then flip it back right side up. I do this a few times occasionally whenever it's convenient. I do this because the dressing will make its way to the bottom of the pasta salad, and flipping the bowl over and back a few times evenly distributes the dressing.
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