A colorful Italian-inspired pasta salad dressed in a sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
It’s perfect for potlucks or picnics or just stowing away in your refrigerator for those snacky, hungry moments when it’s too hot to cook and you want something good to eat fast.
I use rotini pasta so the lovely dressing can stick to all the nooks and crannies.
Also in the mix are salty bites of salami, creamy mozzarella cubes, nutty chickpeas, meaty black olives, briny capers, fresh tomatoes and red onions with crunchy little pine nuts and a smattering of Parmesan cheese to bring it all together.
These are all things I love on their own so putting them together in one bowl is like throwing a party.
Italian flavors flood every single bite.
The beauty of a salad, any salad, is in it’s versatility. You can add things in, make substitutions or leave out ingredients completely if you don’t like them or don’t have them on hand.
The same goes for the dressing, you can substitute red or white wine vinegar in place of the balsamic.
This will happily feed a small crowd and can be easily doubled.
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (or red or white wine vinegar)
- 2/3 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
- a couple sprigs thyme, leaves removed
- salt and pepper
- 8 ounces rotini pasta
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 6 ounces large black pitted olives, sliced in half
- 5 ounces salami, sliced or stick, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1 cup diced tomatoes or 2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 - 3 tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a medium bowl whisk the garlic, mustard, honey and vinegar together. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking. Mix in the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add the pasta to a large mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients. Gently toss together.
- Add half the balsamic vinegar and toss, add more if needed to lightly coat everything, you might need to use it all. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Store in the refrigerator. Best eaten cold or at room temperature.