This Antipasta Pasta Salad is full of big, bold flavors and can be ready in about an hour. With pasta, salami, garlic, and zucchini, it doesn’t get much more Italian than this. You will have this on the dinner table in no time!
I love main course salads, especially during the summer. They are cool and easy to prepare. I usually have all the ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry and can add any vegetables I have left over from my last trip to the farmer’s market. This is what I pulled together for today’s version.
Antipasto is a traditional Italian appetizer platter full of cured meats, olives, pickled vegetables, cheeses and breads. I have incorporated those ingredients and I changed the spelling of the name to amuse myself!
I like to add nearly everything in the kitchen to my entrée salads. Cubed cheeses, chopped vegetables, sliced meats, lettuces, cabbage, toasted nuts, croutons … just about anything you can imagine can go into a salad. Adding a few fresh herbs really adds a fresh note to the flavors and makes it taste like something a high-end restaurant would serve.
When you first get home from the farmer’s market, take a few minutes to wash your produce and dry it. Then when you want to make dinner, it is already cleaned and ready to go. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator if you can help it. The cold drastically reduces the flavor and the texture can be compromised.
You can use any pasta you prefer, as long as they are small enough to easily eat in one bite. I used Fusilli/Rotini because it is what I had in the pantry. You can make this with gluten-free pasta like I did (Barilla brand) or regular pasta if you don’t need to be gluten-free.
You don’t have to make the dressing from scratch, but I recommend it. It just tastes so much better! But there are many good quality dressings for sale in the stores now, so feel free to use your favorite for this recipe if you like. One of my favorites is Newman’s Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette. It is excellent on salads like this or as a marinade.
Give this Antipasta Pasta Salad a try and I’ll bet your family is pleasantly surprised that they will be filled up with only a salad and enjoy every bite!
Key Ingredients for Antipasta Pasta Salad:
- Dressing: oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey or sugar, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper
- Salad: red onion, zucchini, olives, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, basil
- Sliced salami, Monterey Jack or fresh mozzarella
- Gluten-free fusilli pasta (corkscrew style), elbows, or other small pasta shape
Set up a bowl by your cutting board and as you cut vegetables, toss them into the bowl. This keeps your cutting board clear and reduces the risk of cutting yourself. Keeping your knives sharp also reduces injuries. The less pressure you have to place on the blade, the less likely it is to slip and cut something other than the vegetables!
How to make Antipasta Pasta Salad:
- Make the Dressing: Whisk together the vinegar with the oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic; let sit 3 minutes then add the honey or sugar and slowly whisk in the oil
- Stir in the Parmesan; taste and add salt and pepper if needed
- Prep the Onions: Soak the onion slices in ice water for 30 minutes to soften the flavor; drain and pat dry with paper towels
- While the onions are soaking, cook the pasta; when done, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and drain well
- Assemble the Salad: Combine the drained onions with the remaining salad ingredients; add 1/3 cup of the dressing and toss to combine
- Taste and add salt and pepper or more dressing if needed
- Store the salad, covered, in the refrigerator 30 minutes or up to a day; garnish with fresh basil before serving
Mix and toss the salad ingredients together in a large mixing bowl first, then carefully transfer to an attractive serving bowl or platter. This helps keep your serving container clean and the salad looking professionally made.
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links):
Deli meats are one of the areas where you have to be careful to avoid gluten. Many brands contain gluten ingredients and you need to look for a declaration on the packaging. Boar’s Head, Applegate, and Gallo Salame and Toscano Salami from Nuts.com are some of the common brands that are known for their gluten-free products. If you can’t find safe salami in your area, you can substitute another meat choice (like shredded chicken) or leave it out of the salad – there are plenty of great ingredients to fill up even the hungriest tummies.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party where each course is held at a different home. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. This month’s theme is Summer & Fall Salads and is hosted by me! We have a great mix of recipes to suit any occasion. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
Summer and Fall Salads
- Roasted Fall Veggie Salad – The Red Head Baker
- Polenta Caprese Stackers – Shockingly Delicious
- Spinach, Almond and Berries Salad – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Mixed Greens, Peach and Corn Salad with Balsamic Maple Vinaigrette – Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Easy Cole Slaw – Mother Would Know
- Simple Vegan Chickpea Salad with Olives – The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Brussels sprouts Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette – Sarah’s Cucina Bella
- Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Dressing – Creative Culinary
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or your favorite vinegar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp minced fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/2 tsp honey or sugar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly then cut in 2 or 3 pieces
- 8 oz dried fusilli or other small pasta
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 2 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
- 4 oz cubed Monterey Jack cheese or cubed fresh mozzarella
- 4 oz sliced salami, cut into thin strips
- 4 oz chopped marinated artichoke hearts, rinsed lightly and well drained
- 1/4 cup sliced olives, preferably Kalamata, rinsed and drained
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 to 5 large fresh basil leaves, sliced or 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Make the Dressing: In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar with the oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic. Let sit 3 minutes. Whisk in the honey or sugar until dissolved and then slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Stir in the Parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in refrigerator; shake vigorously before serving. Can be made up to 3 days ahead.
- Prep the Onions: In a small bowl, place sliced onions in ice water. Let sit 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. This step helps remove some of the sharpness and heat of the raw onions.
- Cook the Pasta: In a large saucepan or stockpot, cook the pasta in well salted water to al dente, according to package directions. Then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside to finish draining and cooling.
- Assemble the Salad: In a large salad bowl, combine the drained onions with the pasta and all the remaining ingredients except the salt, pepper, and basil, tossing to blend. Add 1/3 cup of the dressing and toss again. Taste and add more dressing if desired and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Place, covered, in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to a day. This lets the flavors meld before serving.
- Let leftover pasta salad warm up at room temperature about 20 minutes. Then garnish with the sliced fresh basil and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 364Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 662mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 12g
If you love this recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
Create a New Tradition Today!
This post was first shared in July 2010. The article was updated in 2020.