2 yellow crocks with pasta salad and a basil garnish.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

One menu item that you’ll find at pretty much any of my summer family gatherings is a pasta salad.  Inclusions vary depending on who makes it, but they always have one thing in common – a healthy dose of meats, veggies and cheese in a zest vinaigrette.  This is the version I make when I’m in charge of bringing pasta salad to a BBQ.

Summer Pasta Salad with Pepperoncini & Pecorino Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8



  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 7-ounce container grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ¼ cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, halved
  • 1 small red onion, julienned
  • 4 ounces pepperoni, quartered
  • 4 ounces ¼-inch thick sliced mortadella, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces ¼-inch thick sliced Genoa salami, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 pound ciliegine mozzarella, halved
  • 1 large bunch basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1-pound box cavatappi


  • 2 pepperoncini, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon pepperoncini brine
  • 2 teaspoons clover honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pecorino
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup floral extra-virgin olive oil


  • MAKE THE SALAD: In a large serving bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, olives, red onion, pepperoni, mortadella, salami, mozzarella and basil and gently toss to combine.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the cavatelli in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta and run cold water over it until completely cooled.
  • Add the pasta to the serving bowl and gently toss to combine.
  • MAKE THE DRESSING: In a medium bowl, whisk the pepperoncini and brine, honey, mustard, pecorino, oregano and pepper to combine.
  • Add the vinegar and whisk to combine.
  • Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, to emulsify.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and gently toss to combine.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes, then gently toss again and serve.
Course: Pasta, Side Dish
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino