Italian pasta salad is a versatile and refreshing dish that combines the vibrant flavors of Italy with the satisfying texture of pasta. This recipe takes the classic pasta salad and elevates it with the addition of savory salami, creamy shredded mozzarella, crisp shredded romaine, and protein-packed chickpeas.
Perfect for summer gatherings, this salad is easy to make, packed with nutrients, and offers a delightful combination of flavors. Let's dive into the details of this mouthwatering Italian pasta salad.
It's a spin-off of the TikTok famous La Scala Chopped Salad that went viral after Kim Kardashian shared about it. And for good reason!
Why You Must Try this Pasta Salad with Salami
- Not your everyday Italian Pasta Salad: it features all your favorite Italian pasta salad ingredients, but with slightly different flavors and textures. It's a copy cat of the TikTok famous La Scala Chopped salad.
- Bursting with flavors: The salty salami, creamy mozzarella, fresh romaine, and nutty chickpeas work together really well together.
- Versatile and customizable: Personalize it to your taste preferences. You can add additional fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, or olives for more color and crunch.
- Perfect for a Summer BBQ: This salami pasta salad is easy to make in 20 minutes or less and everyone loves it, making it the perfect side dish for summer cookouts.
- Easy recipe: the dressing features pantry staples and the salad itself has only 5 ingredients.
Grab These Ingredients
This easy Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious medley of ingredients that come together to create a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. They're easy and affordable to find in the grocery store. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
Homemade Italian Dressing
- Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard and aged cheese with a rich and nutty flavor. It adds a salty and umami taste to the dressing.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in Italian cooking and is an essential component of the dressing. It provides a smooth and luscious texture while imparting a fruity and slightly peppery flavor. Extra virgin olive oil is known for its health benefits and adds a distinct Mediterranean touch to the dressing.
- Red Wine Vinegar: This adds a refreshing and tangy note to the dressing. It brightens up the flavors and balances the richness of the Parmesan cheese and olive oil. It also acts as a natural tenderizer and can help prevent the salad from becoming too heavy. The tang makes this a slightly zesty italian pasta salad.
- Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard is a smooth and creamy mustard made from brown or black mustard seeds, white wine or wine vinegar, water, and salt. It serves as an emulsifier in the dressing, binding the oil and vinegar components together. Dijon mustard also contributes a mild tanginess and a subtle hint of spiciness.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves are often minced or finely chopped and added to the dressing. Garlic infuses the dressing with a pungent and aromatic flavor that complements the other ingredients. It adds depth and complexity to the overall taste profile.
- Salt and Pepper: Salt and pepper are essential seasonings in any dressing. They enhance the flavors of the ingredients, helping to balance the richness and bring out the natural tastes. It's important to season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste, ensuring it is well-balanced.
Italian Pasta Salad
- Pasta: Pasta is the foundation of any pasta salad. In this recipe,you can use any short-cut pasta you have on hand, but fusilli or rotini pasta are great because of their firm texture and ability to hold the dressing well. Use gluten-free pasta if needed.
- Romaine Lettuce: Shredded romaine lettuce adds a refreshing and crisp element to the pasta salad. It contributes a mild, slightly bitter taste and adds a vibrant green color. Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and folate, making it a nutritious addition to the salad.
- Italian Salami: Italian salami brings a robust and savory flavor to the pasta salad. It is a type of cured sausage made from a mixture of pork, spices, and herbs. The salami is typically sliced into thin strips, adding a salty and slightly spicy kick to the dish.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes that provide a creamy texture and nutty flavor to the pasta salad. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber, making the salad more filling and nutritious. Chickpeas also add a subtle earthiness to the overall flavor profile.
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese: Shredded mozzarella adds a creamy and slightly tangy element to the salad. It complements the other ingredients and provides a delightful contrast in texture. You could also use mozzarella balls.
In addition to these key ingredients, other optional ingredients can be included based on personal preference:
- More fresh veggies: try adding grape tomatoes sliced red peppers, red onion, or green peppers. They add color and crunch!
- Other vegetables: we also love stirring in sun-dried tomatoes or artichoke hearts.
- Olives: Olives, particularly Kalamata or black olives, can offer a briny and savory flavor to the salad. For a kick, try stirring in banana peppers.
- Fresh herbs: add fresh basil, oregano, or parsley before serving.
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad with Salami
The full recipe is below, but let’s walk through the easy steps with some photos so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This cold pasta salad recipe is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure it turns out every time.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions on the recipe box. While they're boiling, make the homemade Italian vinaigrette. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a jar or small bowl until emulsified.
Drain the pasta and run it under cold water until it's cool to tough. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl and pour the prepared dressing on top. This allows the dressing to penetrate all of the pasta, helping to flavor it more.
While it's the pasta is marinating in the dressing, prep the rest of the ingredients. Julienne the salami, shred the lettuce (unless you bought pre-bought shredded lettuce), and drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add the remaining ingredients to the pasta and toss until all of the toppings are coated in the dressing.
Note: don't add the lettuce until right before serving so it doesn't get soggy. Place it in a separate container or bag, if you're traveling with it, and stir it in when you get there.
For best results, store the pasta salad in the fridge until ready to serve. You can serve it room temperature but it's better chilled.
5 Mistakes to Avoid With Pasta Salad
- Overcooking the pasta: One of the biggest mistakes is overcooking the pasta, resulting in a mushy and clumpy salad. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, but make sure to remove it from the boiling water a minute or two before it reaches al dente. The pasta will continue to cook slightly as it cools and absorbs the dressing.
- Skipping the seasoning: Pasta salad can become bland if you neglect to season the pasta itself. Add salt to the boiling water before cooking the pasta to infuse it with flavor. This will prevent the salad from tasting dull even if the dressing is well-seasoned.
- Not rinsing the pasta: After cooking the pasta, it's crucial to rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down. Rinsing also removes excess starch, preventing the pasta from sticking together. Skipping this step can result in a clumpy and gummy pasta salad.
- Overdressing the salad: While it's important to dress the pasta salad adequately, too much dressing can make it overly soggy and overpower the other ingredients. Start by adding a moderate amount of dressing and toss the salad gently to coat everything evenly. Add more dressing as needed, but be mindful not to go overboard.
- Adding ingredients that release excess moisture: Certain ingredients, like cucumbers or tomatoes, can release a lot of moisture over time. If you plan to make the pasta salad ahead of time, avoid adding these ingredients too early. Instead, incorporate them just before serving to maintain the salad's desired texture.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. However, the lettuce will start to wilt and become soggy. If you plan to have leftovers, stir the lettuce in separately before serving.
Italian Pasta Salad with Salami and Mozzarella
For the pasta salad:
- 12 oz short cut pasta gluten-free if needed
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce chopped
- 1 cup romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- ¼ lb (4 ounces) Italian salami
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 Tablespooons red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Large bowl
- Glass jar or bowl for mixing dressing
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta according to the package directions.
- While they're boiling, make the homemade Italian vinaigrette. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a jar or small bowl until emulsified.
- Drain the pasta and run it under cold water until it's cool to tough. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl and pour the prepared dressing on top. This allows the dressing to penetrate all of the pasta, helping to flavor it more.
- While it's the pasta is marinating in the dressing, prep the rest of the ingredients. Julienne the salami, shred the lettuce (unless you bought pre-bought shredded lettuce), and drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add the remaining ingredients to the pasta and toss until all of the toppings are coated in the dressing.
- For best results, store the pasta salad in the fridge until ready to serve. You can serve it at room temperature but it's better chilled. If you're serving the salad more than an hour after making it, save the romaine and mix it into the pasta salad just before serving.