Italian Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)

5 from 7 votes
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Italian Pasta Salad with chickpeas, veggies, and a homemade zesty Italian dressing. Easy, make-ahead friendly, and super versatile, this pasta salad will be the hit at any summer gathering.

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Italian pasta salad styled in a wooden serving bowl with two spoons resting on each side.

This recipe post is proudly sponsored by DeLallo, however all opinions are my own.

It’s officially time to fire up the grills and pack the coolers because it’s pasta salad season, baby.

Just like my reader-favorite Healthy Creamy Pasta Salad and Honey Mustard Pasta Salad, this Italian Pasta Salad will be a consistent crowd favorite.

This recipe combines fusilli noodles, chickpeas, pepperoncini peppers and crunchy, fresh veggies like bell peppers and tomatoes.

  • It’s kid-friendly, quick and easy to pull together, and can be made well in advance.
  • You can make it gluten free by using your favorite gluten free pasta noodle.
  • It’s vegetarian, yet so satisfying you won’t miss the classic cured meat additions.
  • And of course, you can swap out the veggies for other additions your family enjoys.

Many traditional Italian pasta salad recipes call for bottled Italian dressing and an assortment of cured meats and cheeses.

I decided to give the classic recipe an update by using fresh, better-for-you ingredients that don’t skimp a bit on flavor.

I’m leaning on a few staple pantry ingredients like DeLallo Fusilli Pasta and Private Reserve Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Since the olive oil is the main component of the dressing, it’s important to use a high-quality oil with exquisite taste.

A large wooden salad bowl filled with vegetarian Italian pasta salad. Garnished with Parmesan and dried herbs.

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad

This pasta salad recipe is best made at least 1 to 2 hours ahead of time. (You can also prepare it the night before!)

This really gives the flavors a chance to marry, and allows the dressing to seep into every nook and cranny of the noodles.

The Ingredients

Recipe ingredients arranged in separate bowls on a wooden board.
  • DeLallo Fusilli Pasta: I love using fusilli pasta in pasta salads because the spring-like curves are incredible dressing catchers. DeLallo pasta is made with the very best quality wheat, observing traditional pasta-making methods to preserve the color, texture, and aroma.
  • DeLallo Private Reserve Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: This olive oil uses the highest quality, hand-selected olives that are specially sourced from privately-owned orchards in Sicily and Tuscany. It’s an exquisite tribute to the Italian olive with an herbaceous aroma and delicate fruit-forward sweetness.
  • Tomatoes: For a pop of freshness, acidity, and sweetness.
  • Chickpeas: I love the heartiness that chickpeas add, as well as the double-punch of protein and fiber.
  • Spinach: Chopping the spinach helps sneak little bits of greens into every bite. It also adds a beautiful pop of color.
  • Bell Peppers: I like to use the mini sweet peppers, which come in an assortment of red, yellow, and orange. Alternatively, you can use 1 standard bell pepper (color of your choice!).
  • Pepperoncini Peppers: These peppers are known for their tangy, mild heat and crisp bite. I like to use both the peppers and tangy pickling brine for extra zest.
  • DeLallo Calamata Olives: Kalamata olives have a bold, briny flavor, semi-firm texture, and meaty bite. I love using DeLallo’s DeLallo Pitted Calamata Olives, which are packed in a lightly seasoned marinade. If you have any leftover, they are the perfect snacking olive paired with a hard cheese and crackers.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: For adding bright acidity to the dressing.
  • Dried Herbs: A mix of dried oregano and parsley add the classic flavors of Italian dressing.
  • Cheese: I love using a grated hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano combined with a semi-hard, sliceable cheese like provolone.

For a complete list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.

The Directions

Step 1: Cook Pasta in a large pot of generously salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

Recipe Tip

Your pasta cooking water should be as salty as the sea. This is the only opportunity you have to really season the noodles.

Step 2: Prepare Dressing by combining olive oil, vinegar, pepperoncini brine, shallots, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper; whisk well. Let stand while you prepare remainder of salad.

Italian dressing being whisked in a clear liquid measuring cup.

Step 3: Combine all Pasta Salad Ingredients in a large bowl.

Pasta salad ingredients being added to a large wooden bowl, and dressing being poured overtop.

Step 4: Add Dressing and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Recipe Variations

  • Add Salami. Many classic Italian pasta salads have cubes of cured meat for extra flavor. Feel free to add diced salami, pepperoni, or summer sausage.
  • Make it Spicy. If you’re like me and love a jolt of spice in pasta salads, add a pinch of chili flakes or 1 teaspoon of DeLallo Calabrian Chili Paste to the dressing.
  • Use Different Veggies. If any of the veggie additions don’t appeal to you, swap them for diced zucchini, artichoke hearts, cucumber, or hearts of palm. Just be sure to keep it colorful!
  • Make it Gluten Free. DeLallo makes an amazing Gluten Free Fusilli with whole-grain brown rice. It has a similar taste and texture to traditional whole wheat pasta.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

  • Make-Ahead. I suggest preparing this pasta salad at least 1 to 2 hours in advance. This allows the flavors a chance to marry, and the dressing to steep into all the nooks and crannies of the veggies and noodles.
  • Store. Refrigerate leftover pasta salad for up to 3 days. When enjoying leftovers, add a drizzle of olive oil to help rehydrate the noodles. Leftovers can be enjoyed chilled or closer to room temperature.
Italian Pasta Salad  (Vegetarian) being styled next to a bottle of DeLallo extra-virgin olive oil.

More Vegetarian Pasta Salad Recipes:

5 from 7 votes

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad with chickpeas, veggies, and a homemade zesty Italian dressing. Easy, make-ahead friendly, and super versatile, this pasta salad will be the hit at any summer gathering.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

Ingredients  

Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb. DeLallo Fusilli Pasta
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mini sweet peppers
  • 3/4 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
  • 3/4 cup DeLallo Seasoned Pitted Calamata Olives, halved
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup small cubed provolone cheese (or mozzarella)
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped

Italian Dressing

  • 1/2 cup DeLallo Private Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. pepperoncini brine (from the jar) or fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. minced shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
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Instructions 

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, prepare Italian Dressing by combining olive oil, vinegar, pepperoncini brine, shallots, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt, and black pepper in a large liquid measuring cup or bowl; whisk well. Let sit while you slice and dice veggies for pasta salad.
  • In a large bowl, combine drained pasta, chickpeas, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, pepperoncini peppers, olives, Parmesan, and provolone. Pour dressing overtop and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Notes

Refrigerate leftover pasta salad for up to 3 days. When enjoying leftovers, add a drizzle of olive oil to help rehydrate the noodles. Leftovers can be enjoyed chilled or closer to room temperature.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 810mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!
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5 from 7 votes

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    5 stars
    Making this for Father’s Day! Easy salad with lots of flavor!!!!

  2. Anna says:

    Another killer recipe. thanks for sharing. my kiddo will eat this twice a day which is uncommon!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      So happy the recipe was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  3. Jennifer says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! I’ve made it twice in the past 2 weeks. Great for lunches!

  4. Christine says:

    5 stars
    Excellent flavor! I substituted marinated artichokes and the brine for the olives. Perfect for a summer dish!

  5. Barbara Monroe says:

    5 stars
    This is the best pasta salad I’ve ever had. So good and very healthy. I hope you try this recipe.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it, Barbara! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review!

  6. Janie Mullins says:

    5 stars
    I made this to enjoy for work day lunches and my gosh is it delicious!!! I added shredded rotisserie chicken to make it more of a full meal.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Janie! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review!

  7. Jacqueline Yvette Scott says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this model recipe with us! I can make some taste changes for the ingredients!!! 🥰👍✝️💎. 5-21-2024. USA–South GA

  8. Kayla says:

    5 stars
    Girl! I’m so excited to make this! Also, your site looks so fresh and pretty 😍. I love it. Can’t want to try this!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      YAY! I hope you love it, sis!!