Simple but so flavorful with fresh crunchy veggies, savory salami, creamy mozzarella and a zesty dressing, this pasta salad is a perfect addition to any party.
A summer BBQ is just not complete without some kind of pasta salad, am I right? And that is exactly where this came from! To be honest, I decided to totally wing it with this recipe and it turned out awesome, so I had to immediately sit down and remember everything I did so I could make it again. The pasta is full of flavor, the veggies add crunch, freshness & bite, the cheese provides just that tiny hint of creaminess, and who doesn't love salami? YUM.
We had a BBQ a couple weeks ago and dragged a bunch of our city-dwelling friends out to our house in the burbs - I think I must have said, "See? It's not that far!" to at least 6 different people that day...with varying responses. I made this pasta salad for the BBQ and as simple as it is - a lot of people loved it and wanted the recipe. Ask and you shall receive!
Quick note - I understand that this pasta salad is kind of an Americanized Italian pasta salad, I really do. And I will tell you one thing: "Italian dressing" as we know it is a total misnomer. From what I gathered during my study abroad trip in Italy, Italian dressing is about as authentic to Italians as Taco Bell is to Mexicans...i.e. not at all. My roommate, Elise, and I stayed with a host family on our trip, and we ate dinner with them every weeknight while we were there. Elise received a care package during our stay, and one of the things her family sent her was a bottle of Wishbone Italian dressing (her absolute favorite and the ONLY way she'd eat salad). When she brought it out at dinnertime, our host family looked at it like we just put furniture polish on the table - they were completely flabbergasted. They gave it a taste with a lukewarm-at-best reaction, so it was especially confusing to explain that this mystery sauce that they had never seen before was actually masqueraded as "Italian" back in the US. Awkward.
Anyways - authentic or not, this pasta salad is TASTY! So let me tell you how to make it! Here is what you need:
Start by cooking the pasta according to package directions - and make sure you salt the pasta water! I used about a tablespoon of kosher salt in the cooking water for the whole box of pasta.
Drain the pasta well and while it's still hot, add half of the Italian dressing and stir well to combine.
Adding in some of the dressing while the noodles are still hot helps the flavor really soak in!
Add the green pepper, tomatoes, red onion, salami, garlic salt and Italian seasoning...
Cover it in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least a couple hours, but preferably overnight so the dressing can soak in and the flavors can really meld. Seriously - let it sit for a while...it makes a big difference!
While you wait for the pasta salad to chill, please enjoy this photo of Charlie!
If I could read his mind, I'm pretty sure he'd be telling me to give him some salami. This dog loooves meat.
Just before you serve the pasta salad, add the cheese, the rest of the dressing, and just a small splash of red wine vinegar to brighten it up.
I like to wait until it's cool to add the cheese because if you add the cheese while the noodles are still hot, it can melt and look kind of weird in the finished product.
And that's it - easy peasy!
So many tasty flavors all tossed in pasta-y goodness. Yummy noises await you!
- 1-12 oz box tri-color rotini
- 1/2 of a green bell pepper (about 2/3 cup), diced
- 1/2 pint grape tomatoes (about 3/4 cup), quartered
- 1/4 of a large red onion (about 1/3 cup), diced
- 2 oz. deli salami (about 10 slices), diced
- 8 oz. Italian dressing , divided (we used Newman's Own Zesty Italian)
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese , diced
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Drain well.
While the pasta is still hot, add half (4 oz) of the Italian dressing and stir well to combine and slightly cool. Add the green pepper, tomatoes, red onion, salami, garlic salt and Italian seasoning and stir.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours but preferably overnight so the dressing can soak in and the flavors can really meld.
Just before serving, add the cheese, the remaining dressing, and the red wine vinegar. Stir well and serve immediately!
Per serving (1/8 of recipe): 262 calories, 9g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 530mg sodium, 37g total carbs, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 9g protein