This Best Pasta Salad Recipe is made with Homemade Dressing & Roasted Tomatoes! It is the perfect healthy & flavorful make-ahead BBQ side dish full of fresh veggies, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella cheese! Gluten-free & Vegan options!
What is a summer BBQ without an awesome pasta salad?! This Best Pasta Salad Recipe with Homemade Dressing is always the hit of the party, and a must-add to any summer gathering menu! It’s a go-to for me whenever we’re pulling out the grill to feed a crowd!
This Pasta Salad Recipe is full of fresh summer veggies, features roasted baby tomatoes, and is tossed with a homemade dressing that is out of this world! The perfect compliment to anything you decide to toss on the barbecue.
How to make Pasta Salad with Homemade Dressing
This homemade pasta salad recipe is SO easy to make, which is one of the reasons I love it. Even making your own dressing is so simple!
Step 1: Roast the tomatoes
One thing that sets this pasta salad recipe apart from all the rest is the addition of roasted baby tomatoes. A little secret about yours truly…I do NOT like raw tomatoes! (Gasp)! It’s true! I’m a raw-mater hater!
However…I could eat roasted tomatoes all day long! The roasting really brings out the sweetness and imparts of depth of flavor that just can’t be beat…which is why they shine in this easy pasta salad recipe!
The roasting process is simple, drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, stir and bake. Just be sure to bake long enough that the tomatoes become shriveled and dry out as much as you’d like!
Step 2: Make the homemade Italian dressing
What sauce to put in pasta salad? This is a question that gets asked a lot about pasta salad recipes, and of course my answer is a Homemade Dressing! In a pinch I have tried bottled dressings and always regret it.
The Homemade White Balsamic Italian Dressing in this pasta salad recipe literally takes 3 minutes to toss together and shake up! TOTALLY worth it! No processed ingredients or additives here!
A note a on white balsamic vinegar.
I adore white balsamic vinegar for both the taste and the color! It doesn’t turn the pasta salad an off-putting brown color like regular balsamic vinegar. However, if you don’t keep the white variety on hand, and don’t care if your pasta salad recipe turns out a little darker, then regular balsamic vinegar can totally be used with equally delicious results!
Step 3: Put it all together
Once you have roasted the tomatoes and made the dressing, this easy pasta salad recipe with homemade dressing comes together in no time! Here are a few notes on the method to help you out!
- Chopping veggies. We prefer our vegetables to be chopped pretty small, so that we can get a little of everything in each bite! To make this even easier a food processor can be used to dice them up very quickly!
- Rinse the pasta. Rinsing the pasta will cold water after it ha been fully cooked will ensure it doesn’t become over-cooked, and will keep it from absorbing too much dressing!
- Adding the dressing. As you can see in the recipe video, the homemade dressing is added to the pasta salad after the hearty vegetables and cheese have been mixed in with the pasta. Be sure to evenly coat everything before adding the parmesan cheese and the fragile roasted tomatoes!
- Let it set. I recommend letting this recipe sit covered in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours before serving, or overnight.
- TASTE and adjust! Before serving pasta salad always taste it and adjust the seasonings as necessary! Depending on the pasta used, you may even need to add a touch more dressing. I usually adjust the salt and pepper right before serving!
FAQs Best Pasta Salad Recipe:
Here are a few more important notes about this healthy pasta salad recipe!
Can you make pasta salad the night before?
One of the (many) wonderful things about this Best Pasta Salad Recipe with Homemade Dressing is that you can make it a day in advance! I actually prefer to prepare it ahead of time to give the flavors a chance to blend together. Just remember (as stated above) to taste, adjust seasonings, and garnish before serving!
How long can you keep pasta salad in the refrigerator?
Another great quality of this Best Pasta Salad Recipe with Homemade Dressing is that you can make it once and enjoy it all week long! After a BBQ we keep this homemade pasta salad in the fridge and enjoy it for lunch or dinner for up to 5 days!
Best Pasta Salad Recipe: Ingredients & Substitutions
Here are a few notes on the ingredients and possible substitutions in this easy pasta salad recipe!
- Pasta: You can easily make this dish gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta and pepperoni!
- Vegetables: Feel free to swap the veggies in this recipe for your favorites.
- White balsamic vinegar. Regular balsamic vinegar works perfectly in this recipe, just keep in mind it will impart a dark color to this homemade pasta salad recipe.
- Olive oil. Both canola and avocado oil work well in this recipe. However I think olive oil is the best choice!
- Dried seasoning. Feel free to substitute fresh herbs if you have them on hand!
- Pearl Mozzarella. If you cannot find pearl mozzarella, simply chop fresh mozzarella cheese into small cubes!
- Pepperoni. For a lighter version use turkey pepperoni!
How to make this pasta salad recipe vegan:
If you leave out the pepperoni and fresh mozzarella you have yourself a vegan version…however those are two of my favorite ingredients in this salad…so I would only omit if absolutely necessary!
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The Best Pasta Salad Recipe with Homemade Dressing
- 16 oz (4 cups) uncooked tri-color rotini pasta, or gluten-free rotini
- 1 cup pepperoni diced
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1 small cucumber diced
- 2 cups bell pepper diced (colors of your choice)
- 2 (6 oz) cans sliced black olives
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Make the dressing:
- In a small bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, mix together the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- When finished, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Roast your tomatoes:
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Slice your baby tomatoes in half.
- Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Spread onto a large baking sheet and bake for 60-90 minutes.
- Once tomatoes are shriveled and roasted to your liking, remove from oven and let cool.
Putting it all together:
- In a large bowl, mix the cooled pasta, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, cucumber, bell pepper, , olives, and Parmesan cheese.
- Add the dressing and mix to combine.
- Toss in the roosted tomatoes.
- Let cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before serving.
- *Regular balsamic vinegar works well too, be aware that it will give your salad a darker color!
- This pasta salad recipe makes a LOT of salad. It can easily be halved to feed an smaller crowd!
- Please use fresh mozzarella cheese for best results
More Delicious Side Dish & Salad Recipes!
Looking for more salad recipes that are perfect to serve at a potluck or BBQ? Here are some of my favorites!
*Note:* This recipe was originally Published on June 27th, 2016 but has been updated with new photos, a video and the recipe is doubled from the original!
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