Home » Side Dish » Zesty Italian Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing

Everyone loves pasta salad! I always make this Zesty Italian Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing. Served with olives, capers, and juicy tomatoes, these bites of pasta are bursting with flavor. Served with homemade balsamic Italian dressing and fresh basil. 

a bowl of pasta salad

I can’t tell you how yummy it is, but I believe it will slowly become a new favorite for you and your family!

Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing

In Italian, pasta salad is called Pasta Fredda. It is made with one or more types of pasta, almost always chilled, and usually tossed with vinegar, oil, or mayonnaise dressing. In addition to being a starter, it is often served as a side dish or as a main dish. Cold pasta salad is a delicious dish to serve anytime of the year, especially when the weather is warm and you need something appetizing.

a bowl of italian pasta salad on the table

I have another vegan pasta recipe with parsley relish, feel free to check out. I think you would like it too. ☺️

Why you would love this Recipe

prepare ingredients in a mixing bowl for pasta salad

This zesty pasta salad gets time to absorb the dressing and take on additional flavor from all the fresh ingredients. This Italian pasta salad recipe is meat-free, dairy-free. Here are more reasons why you would love it:

  • It’s so tasty, mixed with different textures.
  • So colorful and eye appealing.
  • It’s zesty and entices your taste buds.
  • It is cheap to put together with pantry staples.
  • Quick and easy, so convenient to make.
  • It is so versatile and highly customizable (based on what you have on hand).
  • Make-ahead friendly, suitable for meal preps and lunch boxes.
  • It’s a crowd pleasing dish, perfect for parties and gatherings.

What is Italian salad dressing?

Italian dressing is a vinegary dressing that gets its flavor from bold ingredients like balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and lemon juice. Traditional dried herbs found in most Italian dishes, like Italian mixed herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary…etc) are also included.

Unlike mayonnaise-based creamy dressing, Italian Dressing contains half the calories and one third the fat of mayonnaise. That’s why I use Italian dressing in my salads a lot to feel less guilty. 😅

My Recipe

Italian pasta salad is a meal in itself. If you don’t have all the ingredients you need, you can substitute them with a variety of fresh, preserved, or cooked ingredients. You could substitute chopped bell pepper, cooked eggplants, cucumbers, cooked lentils and chickpeas, or even toasted nuts.

ingredients for Italian pasta salad
  • Pasta of choice- You can use any type of pasta you like as long as it’s bite-size such like Penne, Rotini, Risoni (Orzo), Bowtie, Fusilli…etc. For healthier alternatives, you can opt for gluten-free, lentil, or tri-coloured pasta.
  • Olives– I like pitted Kalamata olives in my pasta, but I’ve tried different type of olives with my pasta, they all went well with this recipe. So it’s safe to say, you can use any type of olives you like.
  • Baby Capers- When you use capers in your cooking, it’s always better to use baby capers (the smaller the size of capers, the more concentrated the flavor). A caper is a small flowerbud produced by the Capparis shrub that grows in the Mediterranean. In taste, capers are reminiscent of green olives with their lemony tang and brininess, but with a smack of floral tartness all their own. Capers are packed in brine, which gives them a salty, savory taste.
  • Cherry Tomatoes– or grape tomatoes, quartered.
  • Red Onion– Finely diced. If you don’t like the strong oniony taste. You can dice it first and soak in icy water for 10 minutes before use.
  • Garlic– Crushed or minced.
  • Fresh Italian Basil (Sweet Basil)– It’s so refreshing to have fresh basil in pasta salads. It’s a must-have.

Homemade Italian Dressing

ingredients for italian dressing
  • Balsamic Vinegar- Balsamic vinegar is made by boiling down unfermented grape juice and aging it. A traditional balsamic vinegar has a delicate balance between sweetness and sourness and is thick enough to coat a spoon.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil– A high-quality EVOO is essential. Due to its first pressing, EVOO is the best oil for salads, as it has the most flavour.
  • Lemon Juice– gives our pasta salad a lemony flavor.
  • Maple Syrup– add a touch of sweetness.
  • Italian Mixed Herbs, salt, and black pepper.

How to Make

6 steps of making italian pasta salad
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions just until pasta is al dente (firm to the bites, you don’t want over-cooked pasta for salad). Stir the pasta while cooking so that they don’t stick together.
  2. Once the pasta is cooked. Drain the water with a strainer and place the pasta under cold running water or in a bowl of icy water to stop cooking and drain.
  3. Make Italian dressing by adding extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, maple syrup, Italian mixed herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mixing well.
  4. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl, add olives, baby capers, diced red onion, cheery tomatoes, and sliced Italian basil.
  5. Add Italian dressing to other ingredients.
  6. Mix well and let the pasta sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb all the flavors. Garnish with more fresh basil before serving.  😉

How to Store?

Keep pasta salad in a sealed air-tight container and store in the fridge. It will last up to 3-4 days. I don’t recommend freezing pasta salad as it will result in changing flavor and texture.

PIn for pinterest

Hope you like this easy vegan pasta salad! 😊 

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More Delicious Salad Ideas

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a bowl of pasta salad

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing. Served with olives, capers, and tomatoes, these bites of pasta are bursting with flavor!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 425kcal
Author: SHU-CHUN

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Fusilli approx.250grams, or pasta of your choice
  • ¾ cup Kalamata Olives pitted
  • ¼ cup Baby Capers
  • 15 pc Cherry Tomatoes quartered
  • ¼ cup Red Onion (Note1) finely diced
  • ½ cup Italian Basil fresh, stem removed, packed.

Italian Dressing

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions just until pasta is al dente (firm to the bites, you don’t want over-cooked pasta for salad). Stir the pasta while cooking so that they don’t stick together.
  • Once the pasta is cooked. Drain the water with a strainer and place the pasta under cold running water or in a bowl of icy water to stop cooking and drain.
  • Make Italian dressing by adding extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, maple syrup, Italian mixed herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mixing well.
  • Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl, add olives, baby capers, diced red onion, cheery tomatoes, and sliced Italian basil.
  • Add Italian dressing to other ingredients.
  • Mix well and let the pasta sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb all the flavors. Garnish with more fresh basil before serving.  😉

Notes

(Note1)- If you don’t like the strong oniony taste. You can dice it first and soak in icy water for 10 minutes before use.

Nutrition

Calories: 425kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 1150mg | Potassium: 261mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 351IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg

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