Our family’s very favorite pasta salad recipe, with endless customization possibilities, courtesy of my mother-in-law!
Let’s talk pasta salad! It’s a summer staple, right? I feel like everyone has their own version that’s an absolute favorite. This recipe from my mother-in-law is our family’s favorite. My husband requests it often throughout the year and it’s a must-have when we all go to the beach.
Growing up, if my mom had a large group of people over, one of her go-to meals was always pizzas with a big salad. It wasn’t just any old salad, though – she would load it up pepperoni, salami, cheese, olives, artichoke hearts and, without fail, Good Seasons Italian dressing… signature cruet and all. Gosh, I loved that stuff!
This pasta salad always reminds me of my mom’s pizza side dish salad, and we gobble it up every time it’s made.
Let’s discuss all of the components here…
Pasta: My mother-in-law usually uses medium shells or bow ties… I think everyone prefers the shells, but my grocery store doesn’t carry them! Whatever shape of pasta you like will work just fine.
Meat: Pepperoni is the standard, but switching it up with half pepperoni and half salami is awesome.
Cheese: Mozzarella is de facto, but again I like to throw in a combination of mozzarella and provolone cheeses.
Add-Ins: Chopped onion and celery are pretty typical, but my husband hates celery with the fire of a thousand suns, so I leave it out when I make it. Everyone loves olives (except for me), so those always go in. You can also add artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, whatever you’d like!
So, there you have it! It’s easy and a great dish to keep in the fridge during the summer for quick lunches or an afternoon snack.
What does your favorite pasta salad include??
Favorite Italian Pasta Salad
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Our family’s very favorite pasta salad recipe, courtesy of my mother-in-law!
For the Salad:
1 pound farfalle or medium shells pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed under cold water
8 ounces pepperoni, cubed
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 small onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 (6-ounce) can black olives, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
For the Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
⅛ teaspoon dried basil
1. Combine the pasta, pepperoni, cheese, onion, celery, olives and parsley in a large bowl.
2. Place all of the dressing ingredients in a jar, seal, and shake vigorously to combine. (Alternately, you can whisk together everything but the olive oil, and then gradually drizzle in the olive oil while whisking continuously.)
3. Pour over enough of the dressing to moisten the salad (you may have a tiny bit leftover) and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (it’s even better after it sits in the fridge, so if you have time to make it ahead, do so!). Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Splash with additional dressing, olive oil or vinegar if the pasta has soaked up too much moisture on day 2 or beyond.