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Italian pasta salad on a blue platter.

Italian Pasta Salad

This zesty Italian Pasta Salad is full of rotini, the best bits of an antipasto platter, and a delicious balsamic dressing. Minced celery adds a surprising, welcome crunch.
Course Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 333kcal


For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the pasta salad:

  • 16 ounces rotini or other small pasta
  • 1 celery rib minced (1/2 cup, see note 1)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers drained and minced (see note 2)
  • 6 ounces sliced mozzarella chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (1 1/4 cups, see note 3)
  • 6 ounces sliced salami chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers (see note 4)
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • fresh parsley minced, for garnish (optional)


To make the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • To make the dressing, in a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).

To make the pasta salad:

  • In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
  • To the bowl with the dressing, add the cooled pasta, celery, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, salami, pepperoncini, and capers. Toss to combine and sprinkle with fresh parsley.


  1. Celery. Celery is crucial. It's light, refreshing, crunchy, and not salty. It helps balance out all the other soft, salty ingredients like, mozzarella, salami, roasted red peppers, capers, and pepperoncini. 
  2. Roasted red peppers: The kind in a jar that last a long time in the fridge, or roast peppers yourself.
  3. Mozzarella: Chopped into bite-sized pieces (or use mini mozzarella balls or pearls).
  4. Pepperoncini peppers: I buy the sliced ones for this salad. If you want to help your friends or family avoid them, substitute whole pepperoncini and use them as a garnish.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes 12 (1-cup) servings.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: The balsamic vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator. The pasta can be cooked, drained, rinsed, and cooled up to 1 day in advance. The vegetables can be prepped the day before and stored separately in the refrigerator.
  8. More mix-ins: Get creative with diced bell peppers, olives, fresh basil, a handful of toasted walnuts or almonds, or fresh mushrooms. Just be wary of adding too many soft, salty ingredients. Salami, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, capers, and pepperoncini are all soft and salty. You want balance!
  9. Make the vinaigrette your own: Try adding 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, a teaspoon of honey, a minced clove of garlic, or a pinch of red pepper flakes.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 625mg | Potassium: 182mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 1mg