The Best Italian Pasta Salad

The Best Italian Pasta Salad does not fall short on flavor or taste.  It is a zesty and hearty salad that is effortless and without fail delicious.

Italian Pasta Salad made in a glass bowl on a blue background, by The Food Cafe.

The Best Italian Pasta Salad | The Food Cafe

The Best Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are such a simple and delicious meal, not too mention they can feed a ton of people and are relatively inexpensive to make.

I say “meal” because this Italian Pasta Salad really can substitute as a meal.  It is loaded with summer sausage, mozzarella cheese, veggies, and al dente pasta shells. I like to cook them al dente, meaning leaving them a bit firmer, because the salad dressing will soften them up a bit and you don’t want your pasta salad soggy.

How long does pasta salad with Italian salad dressing last?

  • If you keep your pasta salad in an air tight container and since this is a non-mayonnaise dressing and salad it can last up to 3-5 days in the refrigerator.  I would bend more to the 3 day side just because the fresh cut vegetables may start to get too soggy after too much longer.

For a little color differentiation I added both yellow and red cherry tomatoes.  You will read in the recipe it calls for cherry tomatoes without a color specification.  So you can choose which tomatoes to use, if not both.

Pasta salad with Italian dressing being poured on the salad in a glass bowl by The Food Cafe.

This Italian Pasta Salad makes a great lunch for you and your girlfriends.  Forget about the Olive Garden (although it is delicious), and turn your house into a little lunch oasis for you and your friends.  Feast upon an amazing salad and some warm fresh sough dough bread or garlic butter bread sticks while you compare funny stories of your kids or chit chat about the latest trends.  This truly is The Best Italian Pasta Salad and you will appreciate every bite.

How do you make pasta salad with Italian dressing?

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, following the al dente time.
  2. Drain pasta and pour into a large bowl.
  3. Add: cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, artichokes, summer sausage, navy beans, chopped basil, mozzarella balls halved, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Mix to combine.
  4. Pour Zesty Italian Dressing over the salad, mix to combine and garnish with grated parmesan.
  5. Serve with a side sliced warm bread.

What is the difference between Zesty Italian dressing and Italian dressing?

  • Zesty Italian dressing has a little bit of a kick to it, hence the name “zesty.”  It has a bit of cajun seasoning to give it that extra bite that regular Italian dressing does not have.
  • So if you like a bit of a kick to your salad, the Zesty Italian dressing is what you will want to use.  If you like a more mild flavor than I would use regular Italian dressing.  Either way the Italian Pasta Salad will taste amazing.

Italian pasta salad recipe made and served in a black bowl, perfect for a light lunch by The Food Cafe.

Looking for more great salad Pasta recipes?

The Best Italian Pasta Salad


  • 8 oz cooked pasta shells
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup drained and chopped artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups summer sausage, diced
  • 1 cup navy beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 7 oz mozzarella balls, halved
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups zesty Italian dressing
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for garnishing


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, you want it al dente.
  2. Drain pasta, and add all ingredients into a large bowl.
  3. Mix well and pour dressing over the top, mix again and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
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