Italian Pasta Salad

Yesterday was a big old Sunday cookout at my dad and step-mom’s house and it was such a blast. The weather was perfection and the pool water was like bath water, just how I like it! Everyone is always so busy that it was amazing to just all hang out on a beautiful afternoon, enjoying summer time. My dad fired up the grill to make burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst while my step-mom put out caramelized onions and mushrooms for toppings, garlic tomato salad and potato salad.

My dad and step-mom have such a gorgeous and fun pool!
My dad and step-mom have such a gorgeous and fun pool!

I’m usually in charge of dessert at gatherings here, but this time the request was for a pasta salad so that we could have a total salad bonanza. My version is very Italian inspired (shocker!) and I made a ton to feed a crowd and also have some as a great side dish for us this week. You can adjust it easily below in the recipe portion to cut this Italian pasta salad in half or quarter it if you don’t need 14-16 servings worth! This dish speaks summer to me and is so easy to make.

The pasta for the Italian pasta salad all cooked, drained and rinsed.
First, I cooked the elbow macaroni for the Italian pasta salad. After I boiled it until tender, I drained it and rinsed it off. Now, that is normally a sin to rinse pasta in my opinionated book. However, in this pasta salad situation the starch becomes gummy and unpleasant so rinsing it off is best.
The onions and tomatoes for the Italian pasta salad. It doesn't get much better than Jersey fresh tomatoes!
While the pasta cooked, I prepped the red onion and tomatoes for the Italian pasta salad. It doesn’t get much better than Jersey fresh tomatoes this time of year. I also stirred the simple dressing ingredients together.

Then it was time to bring it all together. In a very, very large bowl I combined the cooked pasta, tomatoes, onions, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, basil chiffonade and the dressing and gave it a big old toss to make sure everything was coated in dressing and combined. Then I transferred it into sealable containers and put it all in the fridge. I wanted to let the Italian pasta salad sit, chill and meld for at least 2 hours before serving, but it’s even better made the day before. I love how easy and portable this dish is, and it keeps well in the summer because there is no mayonnaise in it. So fantastic for any outdoor adventure. Hope you all enjoy it! xoxo

Italian Pasta Salad
Italian Pasta Salad


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Italian pasta salad
Italian Pasta Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 18 mins
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 14
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
For the pasta salad
  • 1 1/2 pounds elbow macaroni (or any short dry pasta you have)
  • 1 whole red onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 12 whole Fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade
For the dressing
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 whole lemon juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 large pinch kosher salt
  • 1 large pinch dried basil leaves
  • 1 large pinch dried parsley leaves
  1. Get a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. When it's ready cook the pasta until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain it and rinse it right away in cold water.
  2. While that all happens, gather your prepped salad ingredients to have them ready. In a bowl, combine the mustard, honey, lemon, garlic, salt, dried basil and dried parsley for the dressing. Thoroughly stir it together.
  3. In a very large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, chopped onion, chopped tomato, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, basil chiffonade and the dressing. Give it a big old toss together to make sure everything is evenly coated in dressing.
  4. Transfer the Italian pasta salad into sealable containers. Let it chill and meld together for at least 2 hours, or up to a day before. Then you're ready to serve it!


2 thoughts on “Italian Pasta Salad”

  1. There is nothing better than pasta salad as a sideline. I’ve worked on pastas a lot. Most of the time I’m cooking pasta and enjoying it. I’ll try your version of Italian pasta as well. 🙂

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