This classic pasta salad is made with a tri-color rotini, filled with vegetables and cheeses, and coated in a scratch-made vinaigrette. The perfect recipe to feed a crowd.
Pasta salad is a classic picnic recipe. What barbecue is complete without a batch of pasta salad that's large enough for a crowd?
You'll love this classic pasta salad recipe because it's quick, easy, and made from scratch. It also makes enough to feed 24 people or more. It's also easy to scale down for a smaller group.
This pasta salad is filled with rotini pasta, pepperoni, two kinds of cheeses, plenty of veggies, and a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Serve this pasta salad at your next family gathering, barbecue, picnic, or birthday party. It goes with everything!
What should I put in pasta salad?
This pasta salad is made with tri-color rotini pasta, a homemade vinaigrette, and these flavorful additions:
- red onion
- bell pepper
- cherry tomatoes
- black olives
- cubed mozzarella cheese
- freshly shredded parmesan cheese
If there's an ingredient you don't have on hand, or don't care for, it can be omitted or swapped with a similar ingredient. Keep in mind, the more ingredients you remove, the more flavor you're potentially removing from your pasta salad!
Serving pasta salad
I like to serve my pasta salad within a few hours of preparing, because the pasta will continue to soak up your dressing as it sits.
If your pasta salad has been sitting for a while and is beginning to dry out, add a splash of olive oil and vinegar to your pasta salad to add some moisture.
This pasta salad recipe will fit in a 9x13 pan or a large serving bowl. If you're looking to feed a smaller crowd, this recipe is easy to halve or quarter. Click on the servings in the recipe card and use the sliding bar.
What to serve with pasta salad
Pasta salad is the perfect side dish for any summer event - barbecues, picnics, birthdays, or for enjoying all week long with lunch! Here are a few of my favorite main dish pairings:
- Hot dogs
- Oven Roasted Brats
- Fried chicken
- BLT Chicken Salad
- Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- Cheesesteak Style Sloppy Joes
- Pulled pork
- Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches
- Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
How long does pasta salad last?
Your pasta salad will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Pasta salad can be made up to a day before an event and stored in the refrigerator, and is best served within 24 hours for freshest flavor.
Classic Pasta Salad (for a crowd)
- 24 ounces tri-color rotini pasta uncooked
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 12 ounces sliced pepperoni
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces olives sliced
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is room temperature. Place pasta in a large bowl.
- Add cherry tomatoes, pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, mozzarella, parmesan, and olives to the bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Pour vinaigrette over pasta salad, then toss to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Pasta salad will keep for 3-4 days, refrigerated in a sealed container. Pasta WILL continue to soak up the dressing the longer it sits, so it may need a splash of olive oil and vinegar if it has been sitting for several hours.
- I recommend serving your pasta salad within a few hours, because the pasta will continue to soak up the dressing as it sits.
- If your pasta salad has been sitting for a while and beginning to dry out, add a splash of olive oil and vinegar to your pasta salad to add some moisture.
- Vinaigrette can be substituted with your favorite Italian dressing if desired.