As the weather gets warmer easy pasta salads are the perfect addition to picnics and summer get togethers. This Italian Pasta Salad is always a crowd favorite loaded with chickpeas, artichokes, roasted red peppers, pepperoni, salami, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
My kids have two days left of school. Can you believe that?
Next year I will have a second grader and a kindergarten. I can’t believe that Drew will be out of my house all day and at school. The end of school in Ohio means we are approaching Memorial Day weekend. It also means warm weather picnics and summer get togethers that involve delicious pasta salads like this Italian Pasta Salad.
When I go to a picnic or bbq I almost always bring an easy pasta salad to share. They are a crowd pleaser, easy to make ahead and big enough to feed a crowd. Today’s Italian Pasta Salad is one I love making because it is loaded with a lot of goodies including chickpeas, artichokes, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, pepperoncinis, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and topped with a light Italian dressing. This salad is customizable to your tastes so if you don’t like something in the ingredients list just skip it!
I am excited to share this easy Italian Pasta Salad in partnership with the American Dairy Association of the Mideast in celebration of Dairy Month in June, a time to celebrate American’s dairy farmers. They provide us with the healthy dairy foods we eat every day. As someone who lives in Ohio I love sharing more about our dairy farmers with you guys. Frank Burkett is a 5th generation dairy farmer in Canal Fulton, near where I live just about an hour outside of Cleveland.
He works alongside his three uncles and several cousins at Clardale Farms, which is named for their grandparents, Dale and Clara Rohr. Together the family cares for 690 dairy cows and farms 900 acres of cropland. You can meet more Ohio and West Virginia dairy families at Drink-Milk.com.
Did you know that in Ohio and West Virginia, dairy farm families raise more than 268,000 dairy cows on about 2,200 dairy farms? In an average year, Ohio and West Virginia dairy cows produce approximately 5.6 billion pounds, or about 656 million gallons, of milk. That’s a lot of milk!
IS MILK AND CHEESE NUTRITIOUS FOR ME?
One serving of milk, cheese or yogurt provides 8 grams of high-quality protein and a powerful package of 9 essential nutrients. Experts recommend 3 servings of low fat or fat-free dairy foods every day.
Milk makes it from Ohio and West Virginia dairy farms to your fridge in just 48 hours, making it a fresh source of high-quality protein. Follow milk’s amazing journey from the cow to your glass!
Cheese can help fill the protein gap. Mozzarella is one cheese, in addition to others like Swiss, cottage, ricotta and cheddar, that is high in protein. Cheeses like these contribute high-quality protein as well as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A to the American diet.
If you have leftover parmesan, you should wrap it in cheese paper. No cheese paper? No worries! Parchment or wax paper will work too. After it’s wrapped, place it in a Ziploc bag, which allows the cheese some air to breathe. If you have leftover softer cheese like mozzarella, store it in an airtight container after wrapping. Get more cheese storage tips.
WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN THIS ITALIAN PASTA SALAD RECIPE?
CHEESE: Mozzarella and shredded Parmesan cheese make an appearance in this salad. I like to buy a big block of mozzarella cheese and cut it into chunks because I feel that it holds up better, especially if you are making this salad ahead of time. You can use fresh mozzarella but I wouldn’t add it into the salad until you are ready to serve it. Other ideas that work include sharp cheddar, gouda, pepper jack or provolone.
SALAMI AND PEPPERONI: The salami and pepperoni add protein to this salad. You can leave it out if you want to make this salad vegetarian or use a different cold cut in its place. I have also added grilled chicken in its place which is a nice addition. Who doesn’t like an Italian Pasta Salad with Chicken?
VEGETABLES: You can add whatever vegetables you like to this salad. I used roasted red pepper, artichokes, red onion, tomatoes and pepperonicins. I also really like olives, bell peppers and green beans.
CHICKPEAS: Beans are a nice addition to this easy pasta salad. I used chickpeas but you can also use white beans or kidney beans. If you like beans as much as I do try this Fresh Black Bean Salad or this Five Bean Salad.
PASTA: I like to use a medium sized pasta for this salad. You can use a slightly larger pasta variety or try something like a tortellini.
FRESH HERBS: In the summer fresh herbs take salads to the next level. I like using fresh basil and parsley to this side dish.
ITALIAN PASTA SALAD DRESSING: Homemade salad dressings are a nice way to control the ingredients in the salad. You will like this light dressing. Feel free to add more spices as you see fit. You can also buy your favorite Italian dressing from the store and use that.
For the pasta salad
For the dressing