Classic Italian Pasta Salad

pasta salad with olives, pepperoni, cheese, kale, and cucumber in a white bowl

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5 from 4 reviews

Classic Italian Pasta Salad gets a veggie and flavor boost with the addition of kale and homemade Italian Salad Dressing



For the Italian Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoons honey

For the Pasta

  • 8 ounces whole grain rotini pasta (or your favorite bite size pasta)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil

For the Salad

  • ¾ cup mini pepperoni or regular pepperoni chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup mozzarella pearls halved
  • 1 pint tomatoes halved (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cucumber chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup black olives, halved
  • 4 cups kale, roughly chopped, stems discarded


  1. Prepare Italian Salad Dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well to combine.  This can be made up to a week in advance.
  2. Make the pasta: Place pasta, water, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in the pressure cooker pot.
  3. Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position.  Cook at high pressure for half of the pasta package cooking time minus 2 minutes (see notes for examples of this).
  4. When pressure cooking is complete, use a quick release.  If liquid sprays from the knob, close knob, wait 30 seconds then release pressure again.
  5. Drain and rinse pasta with cool water.  Add to a large bowl and toss with a splash of the Italian Dressing.
  6. Prepare the salad: Add pepperoni, parmesan, peppers, mozzarella, tomatoes, cucumber, and black olives to the bowl of pasta.  Reserve about 2 tablespoons of dressing and pour the remainder over the salad ingredients and toss to combine
  7. In a separate bowl combine the kale, 2 tablespoons of dressing and a pinch of kosher salt.  Massage the kale (in other words – squeeze and pinch the kale) for 1 – 2 minutes until it’s soft, dark, and reduced in volume by nearly half.
  8. Add kale to the salad bowl and toss to combine.
  9. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
  10. Stores well in the fridge for up to 4 days.


  • When cooking pasta in a pressure cooker take the lowest cook time on the box, divide it by 2, then subtract 2.  For example, if a box asks for 10-12 minutes cook time, divide 10 by 2 (5 minutes), then subtract 2 (3 minutes).  The cook time for the pasta is 3 minutes
  • Cut all the ingredients so they are about the same size.  This makes it easier and more enjoyable to eat
  • Massage the kale, don’t skip this step!  It makes it soft and easy to eat with the rest of the ingredients
  • Buy mozzarella pearls or if you can’t find them, buy a ball of soft mozzarella and cut it into bite size pieces