Italian Pasta Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette

Good Morning & Happy Saturday!

I just got back from a long morning walk with my dogs, and I am so excited about the weather we are having. It was 65 degrees! I was in a sweatshirt. Now that the dogs are walked, and coffee is made, it’s time to do a little Saturday morning blogging.

A couple of nights ago, I put together a list of twenty-five new recipe ideas. My goal is to post two a week. I cook a lot more during the cooler months because the summer just makes it too hot to do anything in the kitchen. I’m excited about all of the recipes because the ingredients are in season, perfect combos, and some are inspired by dishes I’ve had at restaurants. 
I decided to tackle #6 on the list of recipes, the Italian Pasta Salad.

About three years ago, I spent one Memorial Day Weekend out at the lake. Someone brought this unforgettable cold Italian pasta salad. It was so yummy! Because it’s Labor Day weekend and many of you will be attending BBQs and cooking at home, I wanted to share my version of the Italian Pasta Salad. I tried to recreate it the best I could, and I think I nailed it. Kyle surely thinks so! I changed up a few things and left out the olives, but you can totally add them in if you want to. I can’t wait to bring some over to my parent’s house before we play tennis later. 
Not only is this dish incredibly delicious. It’s gorgeous! It’s a beautiful dish to serve, and pretty quick to make! It’s also a great dish to bring to football tailgates this year. This can be made the night before and it tastes even better overnight! It has time to sit and marinate in the delicious garlic vinigrette. 

5 from 1 vote

Italian Pasta Salad With Homemade Garlic Vinaigrette

Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Taralynn McNitt


  • 16 Ounces (BOX) Tri-Color Rotini (you can also use gluten free pasta)
  • 2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Fresh Mozzarella Pearls
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Cup Dry Cured Sausage (or salami/pepperoni/prosciutto)
  • 1 Bunch Broccolini
  • 1/4 Chopped Italian Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 3 Tablespoons Balsamic
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Italiana Seasoning
  • Salt/Black Pepper


  1. In a large pot, boil water & cook the pasta! 

  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a saucepan on low. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped garlic cloves. Allow the garlic cloves to slowly brown. Make sure the oil is not too hot, or it'll start to burn.

  3. When the garlic is lightly brown, turn the heat off and remove from burner. Allow the pan to cool off. Once the garlic oil has cooled a bit, add balsamic, vinegar, and honey. Stir. Set aside. 

  4. Halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the bell pepper and onions, remove the broccolini stems, chop the parsley, and add it to a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. I also added some extra garlic powder on top. 

  5. After draining and rinsing the pasta, add it to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt on top. 

  6. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the rotini. Pour the garlic vinaigrette on top and combine. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the sauce pan to gather all the extra leftover flavor and add it to the dish. 

  7. Add the mozzarella pearls and cured sausage and give it a light toss.  Sprinkle a drizzle of olive oil and pepper on top to finish it off! 

Recipe Notes

You can easily make this dish gluten free and dairy free as well. I made a bowl without the cheese and used gluten free pasta. Looking for a vegan option? Exchange the meat and cheese for tofu! 

Nutritional Facts
Calories: 160, 17g Carbs, 7g Fat, 8g Protein, 1g Sugar, 3g Fiber

You can get creative with the ingredients. The original dish had used sharp cheddar, pepperoni, olives, and no veggies. I decided to add my own touch! A couple of years ago, I would never have touched a cherry tomato. I’d pick around them or leave them out of everything. I slowly started to love them by cooking them, trying them when they are in season, and now I crave them. You really can create tastes for certain foods. I don’t think I could do that with mushrooms though!

If you want a quicker recipe, you can skip out on your own sauce and use a store-bought garlic vinaigrette for the dressing. 
I think the next time I make this recipe, I’m going to use a cheese-stuffed tortellini pasta. 
Sneaking in all of the vegetables brought a lot of flavor and color to the dish! 

If you want to take this recipe to the next level, you can add 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese and olives (if you like them) as well. 
The smell of the garlic balsamic vinaigrette was mouthwatering. The first thing Kyle said when he got home was “what is the amazing smell, what are you cooking?” You can’t go wrong with roasted garlic!

This would be a great side dish with grilled chicken. It has healthy carbs, fresh vegetables, protein, and more! 
I made a separate bowl with no cheese and gluten free pasta. Just to show you how easy it is to accommodate any diet with this recipe. I used a brown rice pasta from Fresh Market. If you replace the meat with a vegan meat/or tofu, you can also make it vegan. 
I promise you’ll have people wanting this recipe, or complimenting you on how beautiful it is! 🙂 This is one of those recipes you can make all year round and change up the ingredients depending on the season.

*tip for food photography…

I made this at my boyfriends house, and I don’t keep my cute food props here, so I used one of my shirts for the “napkin” look 😉 Gotta do what you gotta do! I am really excited to bring more recipes to the blog! This afternoon, I’m making healthy (sugar free/gluten free/dairy free/nut free) cinnamon apple pumpkin cupcakes with a coconut whipped frosting!

Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day!

Questions for you!

  1. Have you ever made a cold pasta salad?
  2. What kind of recipes would you like to see on the blog?
  3. Who is ready for football season?


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