This cold Italian Pasta Salad recipe is quick, simple, and delicious! It’s filled with a great mix of ingredients and tossed in a healthy zesty dressing that is wonderful! Great as a side dish or even a full meal for dinner.
I could live off of pasta salads like this one. Sweet, tangy, and light. One of those where you need someone to pry the large mixing bowl out of your hands or you’ll eat all 8 servings without sharing. Ya. That kind.
This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is in regular rotation just like my Italian Chopped Salad and Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad. It’s really simple. Really, really simple. But it has just the right mix of flavors, textures, and colors to qualify as perfect in my book.
Sometimes I serve it as a side with my favorite grilled chicken and sometimes all on its own for dinner.
Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Pasta – any short pasta works great, such as Farfalle, Penne, Radiatore, or Chiocciole.
- Summer Sausage – the beef makes this pasta salad more substantial and I love the flavor it brings, but if you need this to be meatless, simply omit it.
- Asparagus – boil it with the pasta, bake it, or grill it.
- Cherry Tomatoes – red, yellow, or a combination.
- Pine Nuts – very high in oil, they have a slight buttery texture. I just love them.
- Scallions – these have a sweeter, milder flavor than mature onions.
- Garlic – because, of course.
- Parmesan Cheese – don’t skimp here. Use real Parmigiano-Reggiano, not that processed stuff in a tub.
- Dressing – use my homemade recipe below or if you’re in a pinch, store-bought is fine.
How to Store This Italian Pasta Salad
- The homemade dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I usually make it in advance, so the day I assemble the salad is even quicker.
- This pasta salad can sit out on the counter no more than 2 hours, unless the air temperature is really hot and then no longer than 1 hour. If you’re making it the day before serving, it should be refrigerated until then.
- Any leftovers should also be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for up to 3 days. However, the longer it sits, the longer the pasta soaks up the dressing and can become soggy.
Pasta salad seems synonymous with summer, because it pairs so well with grilled meats and is such a great item to bring to potlucks, but you can make it anytime!
Other Pasta Salads I make all the time!
Simple Italian Pasta Salad
For the Dressing
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of cracked red pepper flakes
For the Pasta Salad
- 3 cups uncooked short pasta , such as Farfalle, Rotini, Radiatore, or Chiocciole
- 1 pound asparagus , tough ends removed, then cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes , sliced in half
- 1 1/2 cups small cubed summer sausage
- 1/4 cup pine nuts , lightly toasted
- 2 scallions , diced
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- To make the dressing, put all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake vigorously until well blended and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. 3 minutes before done, add the asparagus to simmering water and continue cooking. Drain the pasta and asparagus and run under cold water.
- Transfer pasta and asparagus to a large bowl. Stir in the tomatoes, summer sausage, pine nuts, scallions, and Parmesan.
- Pour the dressing over the mixture and gently toss to combine and fully coat.
- Enjoy right away at room temperature or refrigerate for a couple hours to meld the flavors.
- Serve with extra Parmesan, if desired.