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Italian Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This delicious Bow Tie Pasta Salad is an Italian inspired pasta salad loaded with cherry tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, red onions, salami, parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Everything is tossed in a tangy and delicious homemade Italian vinaigrette.

Flavorful and filled with amazing textures, bow tie pasta salad is a healthy and bright side dish perfect for summer cookouts and dinners. It is one of my favorite pasta salads to date!

A bowl of bow tie pasta salad loaded with cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesan

Looking for more summer side dishes? Don’t forget to also check out some of our other cookout favorites such as BBQ Baked Beans, Caesar Pasta Salad, Potato Mac Salad, and Muffuletta Pasta Salad.

A Bow Tie Pasta Salad Recipe

If you have a bunch of bow tie pasta lying around, I highly recommend whipping together this scrumptious bow tie pasta salad.

It’s loaded with all my personal favorite ingredients inspired by ingredients in Italian cuisine such as salami, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh parmesan.

I created a delicious and simple vinaigrette dressing that is tangy, savory and sweet for our bow tie pasta salad, but any store-bought Italian dressing or vinaigrette dressing will work great for this as well if you are looking for something even quicker.

The results is a fresh burst of veggies and chewy pasta coated in tangy dressing as well as sharp and delicious parmesan cheese.

Here are a few other things you need to know about this bow tie pasta salad:

  • ready under 30 minutes
  • can be enjoyed warm, cold or in room temperature – in other words, it makes a great party dish!
  • save well as leftovers
  • super versatile – substitute with the veggies and meat you already have in your fridge. It’s a great way to use up leftover produce!
  • calls for pantry-friendly ingredients and can be made even easier by using a store bought dressing
Top down view of an oval bowl, of bow tie pasta salad loaded with tomatoes, red onions, parmesan and fresh basil


For this Italian inspired bow tie pasta salad, we are using a combination of these vegetables, meat and cheese:

  • bow tie pasta – cook your bow tie pasta al dente and it brings the perfect chewiness to this Italian pasta salad.
  • cherry tomatoes – grape tomatoes work great as well. You can use larger sized tomatoes like Roma tomatoes, but I prefer the smaller ones for this as their flavors are more concentrated and the produce less moisture when tossed in dressing.
  • black olives – any type of olives work just fine!
  • bell peppers – red, orange or green…use your favorite!
  • red onions – red onions have a sharper, more pungent flavor than white or yellow onions, so I prefer using red onions in this salad. However, other onions work as well if in a pinch.
  • salami – pepperoni, procuitto, ham, or other cold cut meats work great as well
  • fresh basil – fresh is key! Avoid substituting with dried basil as the flavors are just not as good in this Italian bow tie pasta salad.
  • parmesan cheese – use good quality parmesan cheese! Makes a huge difference to your bow tie pasta salad. Avoid getting the non-refrigerated kind as there are usually additives in it.

As for that scrumptious Italian dressing that goes into the bow tie pasta salad, here are the ingredients needed:

  • red wine vinegar – in a pinch, white vinegar can be used as well
  • olive oil – avocado oil can be used as well
  • garlic – use fresh garlic! Avoid substituting with garlic powder
  • granulated sugar – this will give the dressing a touch of sweetness to balance out the sour
  • salt
  • black pepper

How to make it

To make this delicious Italian bow tie pasta salad, all you need is 30 minutes and a little bit of patience chopping up the veggies. Or get pre-chopped veggies! 🙂 (total lifesaver on a busy day)

Italian dressing

Start by bringing together all the ingredients for the Italian dressing. I like to do this first because I want to let the dressing sit for a while so the flavors come together.

Italian dressing in a measuring cup

Simple whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, sugar, salt and black pepper. You can add herbs such as oregano or thyme if you’d like, but I find that not necessary since there’s already so much amazing flavors going on in our bow tie pasta salad.

Italian Pasta Salad

Next, I chop up all the veggies and meat and get them into bite-size pieces, and boil pasta until al dente and chewy.

Once that is done, bring bow tie pasta, red bell peppers, olives, cherry tomatoes, red onions and salami into a large mixing bowl.

A mixing bowl filled with bow tie pasta, bell pepper, red onions, salami, black olives. Dressing on the side

Give it a toss and then add shredded parmesan and chopped fresh basil.

A large bowl of bow tie pasta salad topped with parmesan cheese and fresh basil

Toss it up until everything is combined.

Top down view of half of a bowl of Italian bow tie pasta salad

The product is the most delicious Italian bow tie pasta salad that is juicy, chewy, tangy and perfect.

I love the combination of flavors and textures…the juicy tomatoes, the tanginess of the olives, the freshness of basil and sharp bite of parmesan.

As the weather warms up, this bow tie pasta salad is absolutely perfect for cookouts, bbqs, picnics and dinners. I love having leftovers as a light lunch the next day as well!

Substitution and Variation

This Italian bow tie pasta salad recipe is extremely versatile, and can be made using a variety of different ingredients. Here are some ideas:

  • vegetables: add or substitute with cucumbers, lettuce, other types of olives.
  • meats: add or substitute with pepperoni, ham, procuitto, or other cold cut meats.
  • cheese: fresh mozzarella balls (add when cool so they don’t melt) and/or feta taste great in this as well
  • dressing: add dried herbs such as Italian seasoning, oregano, basil or thyme.

Storage, Making Ahead and Reheating

To store Italian bow tie pasta salad, simply store in air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

If making ahead, store parmesan, fresh basil and dressing separately and only add to pasta salad when ready to serve. This will prevent the pasta salad from getting soggy.

An oval platter of Italian pasta salad with serving utensils in the background

When it comes to serving, bow tie pasta salad can be served cold or in room temperature, so you can find me eating leftovers with a spoon straight from the container/bowl standing by the countertop. 🙂

You don’t have to microwave to heat it but if you want to, do it for a short amount of time so it doesn’t overcook the vegetables.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I rinse cooked pasta with cold water?

No, rinsing cooked pasta will take away the starch from pasta and the starch is necessary for the sauces to stick to and coat the pasta. To prevent warm pasta from sticking to each other, instead of rinsing with cold water, toss pasta in olive oil.

What type of dressing should I use if I don’t want to make my own?

Any Italian dressing works great in this bow tie pasta salad, or you can also use any sort of vinaigrette dressing.

Can I freeze this?

I would not recommend it because the veggies will not taste the same after freezing.

Bow tie pasta tossed with tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, parmesan and red onions

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

More Salad Recipes

A bowl of bow tie pasta tossed with cherry tomatoes, parmesan, olives, red onions and fresh basil

Italian Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Delicious Italian inspired bow tie pasta salad recipe combining cherry tomatoes, black olives, red onion, bell peppers, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese. Tossed in a tangy homemade Italian dressing.
4.97 from 32 votes
Print Pin
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 453kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 1 lbs bow tie pasta
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup black olives halved
  • 2 cups bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup red onions diced
  • 8 oz salami
  • 1 cup fresh basil julienned
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese shredded


  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • Bring together all the 'dressing' ingredients. Whisk to combine. Set dressing aside.
  • In a large pot, bring water to boil on stove top. Cook bow tie pasta according to package instructions.
  • Drain water from pasta when done. Add pasta to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add cherry tomatoes, black olives, bell peppers, red onions and salami to the bowl of pasta. Add dressing. Toss to combine.
  • Add fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Toss again to combine.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 941mg | Potassium: 363mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1236IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Summer is truly the best time for a pasta salad like this! Bowtie is my favorite shape and I loved all the flavors and textures of the other ingredients. Will definitely be making again soon

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Cara! Happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  2. 5 stars
    This came out so fresh and fabulous! I was looking for a new pasta salad recipe and this one fits the bill. The family loved it!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! That’s great!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much!

  3. 5 stars
    This is one of my family’s favorite pasta salad. We love the colorful combination of toppings and cheese drizzle is delicious. The dressing recipe was delicious and easy to make as well.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Vicki! Happy to hear this recipe is a favorite!

  4. 5 stars
    I had a jar of opened olives and didn’t know what to do with them. This was the perfect use! SUCH a tasty salad! Will make again this week.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! Love being able to use up leftover ingredients! Thanks for sharing!

  5. 5 stars
    This pasta salad was really tasty, colorful, easy to make and everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks so much! Glad to hear that!

  6. Carrie Robinson says:

    5 stars
    Brought this to a summer BBQ potluck this weekend and received rave reviews. I love the flavors of the dressing.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Carrie! Glad to hear everyone enjoyed it!

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe was a hit at our last barbecue!

    1. Joyous Apron says:


  8. suzanne h. says:

    5 stars
    This pasta was incredibly full of flavor and pizzazz! I served it with grilled chicken and it was the perfect easy summer dinner!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Perfect combo! Sounds so delicious!

  9. 5 stars
    I really loved how easy this pasta salad came together. It was super pretty with all the colour and it tasted delicious too!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you Megane! Glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  10. 5 stars
    This salad had all the flavors I crave in a pasta salad! It made the best side dish.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you! Glad to hear!

  11. 5 stars
    Wow, this Italian pasta salad was easy to make and very delicious. I used a store-bought Italian dressing. The vibrant colors and fresh ingredients make it incredibly inviting. It was a delicious combination of flavors.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Natalia! Good idea using store-bought Italian dressing for an even easier meal!

  12. 5 stars
    I made this for an end of summer pot luck. Everyone loved it and it was so easy to make. I left out the salami and added chickpeas instead to make it vegetarian. So good!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      That sounds delicious!! Thanks for giving this a try!