This Italian antipasto pasta salad is made with fusilli pasta, chunks of Italian cold cuts, provolone cheese, pickled giardiniera vegetables, tangy green olives, and pepperoncini to rival those found at any Italian deli.


Attention all meat lovers: This is the pasta salad you’ve been waiting for. The inspiration for this recipe is my antipasto salad which in turn was inspired by my fave Italian deli case, and it’s brimming with flavor. Here, my antipasto pasta salad skips any leafy greens and features fusilli pasta, a variety of Italian deli meats and cheeses mixed with pickled veggies, and a simple balsamic dressing to make a salad that won’t go limp over time and delivers a filling bite with plenty of tang. The only cooking involved is boiling the noodles, and you can throw the other salad components together quickly, while those cook. It’s perfect for parties, potlucks, and weekend eats.

Since I’m always looking for ways to “pasta-fy” or “potato-fy” some of my favorite recipes—like my Nicoise pasta salad or my Greek potato salad—I couldn’t miss an opportunity here to do this pasta version, making it an even better companion to a party or potluck.


What’s in Antipasto Pasta Salad

Antipasto is known as the first course of the Italian meal and includes olives, pickled vegetables, cured meats, and low-moisture white Italian cheeses. Here, I toss it all in a bowl, with pasta, drizzle it with a simple dressing, and enjoy each of the tangy bits of bites in every forkful.

Here’s what’s in this antipasto pasta salad:

  • Fusilli pasta (feel free to use any other short, ridged noodle you like)
  • Mortadella: An Italian cured cold cut with large and small chunks of pork fat studded with pistachios
  • Salami: Choose any salami you prefer, Genoa, cotto, Finocchiona, hard salami
  • Smoked pastrami: This meat is totally optional but my favorite deli adds it to their recipe and I really enjoy the flavors. Or, try chunks of smoked ham instead.
  • Provolone cheese, or try a low-moisture mozzarella sold in a block
  • Mild giardiniera: An Italian medley of chopped, pickled cauliflower, carrots, peppers, celery, and chile peppers. If you like the heat, try the spicy version
  • Pepperoncini: Chop the pepperoncini and reserve the brine for the dressing 
  • Green olives: Slice flavorful pitted green olives (pimento-free) or try mild Castelvetrano green olives
  • Reserved giardiniera brine
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to Make Antipasto Pasta Salad

Cook your pasta until al denté, then rinse and drain to cool it down.

Chop the meats and cheese into bite-size pieces. The goal of this salad is to get more than one taste in each bite so make the chunks the perfect fork-to-mouth size.

Toss and let the flavors marry. I think this salad does best when the dressing infuses into the meats so a little downtime before eating is a good thing.


What to Serve with Antipasto Pasta Salad

More Pasta Salad Recipes to Try

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