This Italian Penne Pasta Salad is dressed with a creamy homemade dressing that's beautifully seasoned with an Italian blend of spices. It's packed with flavor, texture and pretty colors, too.
Italian Pasta Salad
My family loves pasta and pasta salads serve double duty at our house. Depending on the mix-ins, they can double as a side dish or an entree, particularly nice on a warm summer's day. The addition of salami, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese in this salad, is what gives it the opportunity to be enjoyed both ways.
A traditional elbow macaroni is what would typically be used for homestyle macaroni salad here in the South. However, this salad is not typical. The full bodied texture of penne pasta is spectacular in this dish, and when I'm cooking and developing a recipe, I most often reach for something different from what's expected.
- While I used penne pasta for this salad, you may adapt with any shape that suits your fancy.
- Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list, as the mix-ins can be adapted using your favorites or what you have on hand. None of the ingredients are unusual or difficult to find.
- This salad can be made with different Italian meats or even using ham, if preferred.
- Likewise, you can make this salad with fresh mozzarella cheese, or another variety of cubed cheese to adapt to your liking.
- You may make this salad using a quality prepared dressing for a shortcut.
- Allow ample chilling time to give the flavors time to marry.
- You may also like my recipes for BLT Layered Pasta Salad, Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad or the always popular Spaghetti Salad. You may also enjoy my Parade article featuring 15 Best Summer Pasta Salad recipes.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Italian Penne Pasta Salad
Servings: 10 servings
- 2 ½ cups dry penne pasta
- 1 0.7 oz Good seasons Italian salad dressing mix
- 1 cup real mayonnaise
- ½ cup milk or half & half
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp basil pesto
- 1 small red onion diced
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup kalamata olives (whole or sliced, your preference)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 oz cubed mozzarella cheese
- 4 oz pepperoni quartered
- 4 oz cubed hard salami
- 3 chopped green onions
- 2 Roma tomatoes diced
- salt and black pepper to taste
- In a medium size pot, boil the penne pasta in salted water per the instructions on the box until al dente. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry salad dressing mix, mayonnaise, milk, red wine vinegar, pesto, and olive oil. (May sweeten with 1 tsp sugar, if desired to balance flavor)
- Add drained pasta to dressing mixing until fully coated.
- To the pasta add, onion, green and red bell peppers, olives, Parmesan, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, green onion and tomatoes. Mix until evenly distributed. Reserve some green onion for garnishing.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Place into an airtight container and chill for at least 4 hours. Stir before serving garnished with green onion.
- Store leftovers chilled.