Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad

August 15, 2022

Salad

By: Chris Petrellese 

This Italian-inspired pasta salad is packed with fresh flavors and is perfect for all warm weather gatherings. It’s easy to make and will be ready to serve in 30 minutes or less. The best part is that it’s fully customizable, and you can add or subtract ingredients based on what you have in your fridge or pantry. 

horizontal photo of Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad in blue bowl

Here’s What You Need to Make this Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad:

Dressing

  • Oil – We recommend using extra virgin olive oil for this pasta salad. Using a high-quality EVOO will help add an extra pop of flavor to this dish. 
  • Vinegar – A classic Italian dressing wouldn’t be complete without adding some vinegar to the olive oil. We find that red wine vinegar works best for this dressing, but you can also swap it for balsamic vinegar. 
  • Mustard – After a few trials testing this recipe, dijon mustard complements this dressing the best. You can swap it for any mustard you want or that you have on hand. 
  • Dairy-free parm – Adding some cheesiness to this dressing will create a bold, tangy richness. We recommend using the dairy-free parm crumbles from Follow Your Heart or Go Veggie. It will mix perfectly into the dressing without being too clumpy. 
  • Sweetener – A touch of sweetness in our dressing will help round out the flavors. We like to add a bit of agave, but feel free to use maple syrup or even a sprinkle of sugar. 
  • Garlic – Fresh is always best when adding garlic to just about anything. We recommend finely grated or pressed garlic, so it mixes evenly into the dressing. If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, you can use garlic powder at a 1/4 teaspoon per garlic clove ratio. 
  • Spices – The spice blend for this Italian dressing is simple and consists of Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. 
ingredients for Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

  • Veggies – As mentioned above, this recipe is customizable, and you can add or subtract ingredients based on your preferences and availability. We use green bell pepper (red bell peppers are great too!), red onion, cucumber, and grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. 
  • Pasta – We are using farfalle or “bow-tie” pasta for this pasta salad, but any smaller shaped pasta will work. A longer noodle like spaghetti or linguini is not recommended, as it may be a bit more challenging to eat. 
  • “Cheese” – Since this is an Italian-inspired pasta salad, using a mozzarella-style block cheese is recommended. We recommend the brand Miyoko’s. It’s the closest thing to fresh mozzarella we’ve tried. They also have a smoked mozzarella-style variety that would work very well in this salad. We are also mixing in dairy-free parmesan cheese. We recommend grating in the block-style parmesan from Violife rather than using the crumbles as we did for the dressing. 
  • “Meat” – Since there are not many (or any at all) plant-based salami varieties available, using plant-based pepperoni is recommended instead. Sweet Earth has a delicious pepperoni that works perfectly in this recipe. 
  • Herbs – Adding fresh herbs to a pasta salad can help bring the flavors to life. We like adding finely chopped basil and fresh parsley to brighten the flavor and make this cold pasta salad extra herbaceous. 
  • Olives – If you aren’t a fan of olives, you can leave them out, but adding sliced black olives is a great way to add some additional flavor. 
close up of Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad in blue bowl

Additional Equipment:

To Rinse or Not to Rinse?

Most people cringe at the thought of rinsing freshly cooked pasta, and rightfully so. However, when making a cold pasta salad, rinsing the pasta is not as frowned upon! Rinsing your pasta stops the cooking process (which prevents the pasta from falling apart if overcooked) and rinses some of the starch out to give the pasta salad more of a bite and prevents the pasta from clumping together. 

Final Thoughts

We hope you love this Italian Pasta Salad recipe as much as we do. It’s the perfect side dish for potlucks and cookouts. It also makes excellent leftovers. You can use the dressing for this pasta salad on its own to marinate tofu or use it as an Italian salad dressing. This recipe can be put together in under 30 minutes and made in large batches to feed a bunch of people quickly. We can’t wait for you to give it a try!

close up of Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad in blue bowl

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vertical photo of Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad in blue bowl

Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad


  • Author: Chris @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This Italian-inspired pasta salad is packed with fresh flavors and is perfect for all warm weather gatherings. It’s easy to make and will be ready to serve in 30 minutes or less. The best part is that it’s fully customizable, and you can add or subtract ingredients based on what you have in your fridge or pantry. 


Ingredients

Dressing

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dairy-free parm, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or added to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Remaining Ingredients

  • 1 lb bow tie pasta
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 10 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • vegan pepperoni
  • vegan mozzarella block, cubed
  • 1 cup vegan parm
  • 6 oz sliced black olives
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil

Instructions

  1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a generous amount of salt and then cook your pasta according to package instructions.
  2. As the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisking it until fully combined.
  3. Strain your pasta once finished and run it under cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process.
  4. In a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, pour over the dressing and mix until everything is fully combined.
  5. You can enjoy it immediately or allow it to chill in the fridge before serving!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Side dish

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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