This pasta salad is loaded with tons of Italian inspired ingredients. It makes enough to feed an army making it perfect for all of your summer get-togethers!
You can even mix it up a day or two ahead and throw on the toppings the day of your party.
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Pasta salad is a dish that I frequently make for church potlucks because it’s easy and it feeds lots of people.
I always used a couple of box mixes and doctored them up. But no more!
This Italian pasta salad recipe is just as easy, if not easier, because there’s no seasoning packets to mix up.
Because this recipe uses bottled Italian salad dressing! If you have a favorite homemade Italian dressing, by all means use that.
But there are so many great Italian dressings on the market, I feel comfortable using bottled instead.
I look for a dressing that contains olive oil because it lends a more authentic Italian flavor to the pasta salad.
Also, I hate canola oil! I know you think I’m crazy because it’s supposed to be healthy.
But once I read how they use heat and an array of chemicals to extract the oil from the seeds, I pretty much stopped using it.
But feel free to use the of brand of dressing you like best.
The pepperoni I use are these cute little mini guys. They’re perfect for recipes like this. If you can’t find them, just cut some regular size ones into quarters.
This pasta salad starts with, guess what? Pasta! Shocking, I know!
The shape doesn’t matter too much. But you want something that’s going to hold up well.
By they way, if you opt for a tri-color pasta, be sure to check the weight. All of the brands I checked only contained 12 ounces instead of 16 ounces. Sneaky!
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box, then drain it. Rinse it with cold water to cool it down and then drain it again.
Put it in a large mixing bowl (like the biggest one you have) and mix it together with the olives, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese (cut it into about a 1/2 inch dice), red onion, crushed red pepper…
Then add the Italian dressing. Start with 3/4 cup and give it a good stir. Add another 1/4 cup if you feel it needs it.
Cover your pasta salad and pop it in fridge for at least 2 hours to chill. You can even make it a day or two in advance if you like.
After it’s spent some time chilling, toss on the fresh basil.
And then the Parmesan cheese.
I have a fondness for the real honest to goodness authentic stuff, but I have used the shaky stuff from a can in a pinch. Also, go ahead and add a little extra, I won’t tell.
I usually make this Italian Pasta Salad as a side dish, but leftovers are fantastic for lunch!
If you love Italian food, check out these scrumptious dishes.
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