I fell in love with Italian Pasta Salad the first time I tried it. It’s my favorite kind of pasta salad. I can eat it non-stop and I never seem to get full from it.
Italian Pasta Salad is not known here in the Netherlands, and neither is Italian salad dressing which is the main ingredient you need to make Italian Pasta Salad. But it’s the start of BBQ season, the start of picnic season, and the start of summer potluck parties. I was really starting to crave this Italian Pasta Salad, the salad that I enjoyed so much in the summer season back home in Chicago.
I don’t know why I never bothered to look up the recipe for Italian salad dressing until now. There are tons of recipes to choose from and it is sooooo easy to make. I guess I thought that if it comes in a bottle then it must be the only way you can get it. I was fortunately wrong. And not only is freshly made Italian salad dressing much tastier, it is much healthier without all the unrecognizable preservatives.
Aside from the favorite choice of pasta for this salad, rotini or fusilli, you can prepare this salad with any of your favorite vegetables. I like mine with broccoli florets and cucumber slices, but you can also add in black olives, sliced pepperoni, carrots, or just about anything you like with Italian salad dressing. It is, afterall, the kind of pasta salad that is meant to be your favorite.
The Italian Salad Dressing is adapted (with changes) from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Italian Pasta Salad
A classic Italian Pasta Salad. Change the vegetables to make it your own. This salad tastes even better when made in advance.
- FOR THE ITALIAN DRESSING:
- 3/4 cup (180ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons very finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey (to balance out the vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 pound (450g) rotini or fusilli pasta
- 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
- 1-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers
- OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)
- 1 cup sliced pepperoni (optional)
- 1 red onion, chopped (optional)
- Extra grated parmesan cheese to serve
- Step 1 MAKE THE DRESSING: Combine all the Italian Dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitted lid. Shake vigorously until all is well combined. Set in the fridge to chill while preparing the rest of the recipe.
- Step 2 Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a pot of water. Bring to a boil. Once water is boiling add in your pasta and cook until al dente. Then add in the broccoli florets and cook 2 minutes longer.
- Step 3 Strain pasta and broccoli in a colander and run cold water throughout to cool. Set aside.
- Step 4 In a large bowl add the pasta and broccoli, cucumbers, and all your additional toppings of your choice. Pour the dressing to coat and toss well.
- Step 5 Cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Before serving always stir again and top with Parmesan cheese (if desired).