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Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad

Easy, versatile, colorful, convenient, refreshing, and delicious. The list of good things about this Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad maybe even longer than all the tasty things in it. It is one of the BEST quick and simple recipes you can make.

Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad  recipe.

With this pasta salad, you’ll bring a taste of Italy to your table … or someone else’s. This dish is a perfect side dish and an easy go-to for potlucks, picnics and cookouts with burgers.

Spring and summer are usually when I find myself whipping up this easy Italian pasta salad the most often. While we can buy produce at the grocery store any time, it’s freshest when you can source it from local farms.

While the farm-to-table movement has taken hold for many reasons, better-tasting food is one of the most obvious! This pasta salad’s blend of veggies, cheese and fresh herbs is an excellent way to show off your latest farmers market haul.

You’ll see from the simple instructions, almost all of the total time is in the prep time slicing vegetables.

italian bowtie pasta salad.

Ingredients needed for this bowtie pasta salad recipe

  • Bowtie Pasta: Farfalle, also known as bowtie pasta, is the star of this dish. Be sure to cook it al dente so the pasta holds the dressing and ingredients well. See FAQs about substitutions, if desired.
  • Vegetables (and fruits): This recipe calls for artichoke hearts, cucumber, and red onion, which are vegetables. It also needs olives, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red peppers – all technically fruits but often considered vegetables because of their savory taste.
  • Cured Italian Meats: Salami and pepperoni lend a spicy flavor, nutritional protein and chewy element to the overall texture of the salad.
  • Italian Cheeses: Parmesan and mozzarella help bind the salad, with the former bringing a sharp, nutty flavor and the latter adding a cool, creamy texture and mild flavor.
  • Zesty Italian Dressing: If you like to mix up your own Italian vinaigrette, go for it! For this recipe, I use a store-bought bottle. Ingredients typically include vinegar, water, a blend of vegetable oils, sugar, and salt plus dried red bell peppers, garlic and onion.
  • Parsley: This fresh herb brings a bright color and equally bright, fresh taste.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste.
  • Pepperoncini: These are optional. I like to include them for another flavor dimension because they definitely add some zing.
Italian bowtie pasta salad ingredients

Be sure to check out the full ingredient measurements and complete recipe below.

Kitchen Equipment Needed:

  • Large pot
  • Strainer 
  • Large bowl for mixing
  • Optional second bowl or other large, deep dish for serving

What to serve with Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad

This recipe is so versatile that I believe the answer is anything. That’s why it’s often a star at potlucks.

It’s great on its own for a light meal. It would be so delicious with crusty bread that’s drizzled with a blend of extra-virgin olive oil and Italian herbs.

As a side dish, you could serve it alongside an Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Breast or these Stuffed Italian Chicken Roll-Ups.

Don’t limit yourself to chicken, either. This would pair just as well as a side for a steak or fish entree. I said anything! It may be a little weird to serve it with a lot of other pastas … or would it?

Italian bowtie pasta salad ingredients

Frequently Asked Questions

Even simple salads bring up good questions! Here are the most common faqs and answers. If there’s anything I’ve not covered, be sure to drop a line. I will reply as soon as possible.

Do I have to use bowtie pasta?

While rotini or penne noodles can be used, the unique shape of farfalle adds an elegant touch to the presentation. You could try longer noodles if you simply want the nutritional value of the starch, but they won’t hang onto the many flavors like the textured, shorter noodles do!

If you prefer a warm pasta salad instead of this cold one, try my Chicken Caprese Pasta Salad. Another perfect dish for summertime.

What is the best way to cook pasta al dente?

First, always use the recommended amount of water and salt to boil your pasta. Usually, it’s four quarts of water and one tablespoon of salt to one pound of pasta. Traditionally, it’s recommended to bring the water to a boil, add your pasta, and give it approximately 10 minutes. Always check your packaging for that.

I do it that way, occasionally checking the pasta for the desired consistency. It should be tender yet still firm. There is another method that starts the pasta in cold water. I haven’t tried that yet, so let me know if you do and like it!

Can I make substitutions to ingredients in this Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad?

Absolutely. And you can add a few things for more dimension to the flavors. You might add a touch of feta cheese, for example. If you do, go easy because there’s already a lot of salt in the cured meats. You could also swap the cherry tomatoes for grape tomatoes and get a sweeter flavor.

You could do a vegetarian version and leave out the meats altogether. I’d turn up the herbs in the at case, and perhaps add some fresh basil. You might also consider adding sauteed mushrooms in the place of the meats.

More Grandma-Approved Recipes

If you loved this Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad recipe, here are a few other recipes that you should try! They are all delicious and grandma-approved.

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Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad

Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad

Easy, versatile, colorful, convenient, refreshing, and delicious. The list of good things about this Italian Bowtie Pasta Salad may be even longer than all the tasty things in it. It is one of the BEST quick and simple recipes you can make.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta, side dish
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Laura



  • 16 ounces bow tie pasta
  • 4 ½ ounces sliced black olives or 1 cup Kalamata olives
  • 6 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup salami sliced
  • ½ cup pepperonis sliced
  • 7 ounces jar roasted red peppers drained and sliced
  • 1 cup cucumber diced
  • ¼ cup red onion finely diced
  • ½ cup fresh shaved Parmesan
  • 8 ounces mini mozzarella balls
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 16 ounces bottle zesty Italian dressing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pepperoncini optional


  • Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, rinse and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
  • While the pasta cooks, start chopping and slicing the other ingredients.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss with zesty Italian dressing
  • Top with some fresh black pepper and pepperoncinis, if desired.

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