Creamy Italian Pasta Salad

This four ingredient Creamy Italian Pasta Salad is the quickest way to pasta salad heaven. A super easy creamy Italian dressing gives this pasta salad the Alfredo touch.

large white serving bowl of creamy bowtie pasta topped with broccolini and red chiles.

This is not going to be one of those super long recipe posts telling you a story about how this Creamy Italian Pasta Salad came from a wonderful aunt (it did) who was a great hostess (she was) and it changed my life forever (it just might have). If you are a fan of a Fettuccine Alfredo sauce like my homemade Butter and Cream Sauce recipe, you’re going to especially like this pasta salad dressing.

I mean really, really like it… especially when you find out how darn easy it is!

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Why this recipe

black plate of pasta, broccolini, Calabrian chiles on a white and black pinstriped napkin.

Three words.

Three ingredient pasta salad dressing.

Yup. Three.

And it’s got other wonderful qualities:

Bold flavor. This isn’t one of your oily-no-flavor pasta salad recipes. The creamy italian dressing recipe coats any curly pasta or makes a mean fettuccine alfredo pasta salad. And did I tell you it only has 3 ingredients? 🤗

Perfect side dish recipe. Your holiday ham or beef tenderloin would love to have a big scoop of this pasta salad alongside it!

Unique ingredients. A few little accessories like salty sunflower seeds, some broccolini and a burst of Calabrian peppers totally seal the deal.

Speaking of ingredients…read on to see what you’ll need.

Ingredients

Don’t be thrown off by the pretty picture…the ingredient list for this dreamy, creamy pasta salad is pretty straightforward.

ingredients to make bowtie pasta salad including broccolini, bottles of salad dressing and wedge of parmesan.

Simple ingredients

They might be simple but they pack a punch of flavor and texture!

  • Calabrian chiles. Chopped and sprinkled over for a pop of color and heat.
  • Broccolini. A little green never hurt, right?
  • Sunflower seeds. Every pasta creamy pasta salad needs sprinkle of crunch!

Step by step to creamy pasta salad

white colander of cooked bowtie pasta and steamer of broccolini and bowls of creamy dressing, chiles and sunflower seeds.

To make this easy four ingredient pasta salad recipe, you’ll start with some cooked pasta. My favorites are

  • farfalle (as shown)
  • fettuccine or bucatini
  • cavatappi, rotini, or fusilli
  • tortellini

Make the creamy Italian dressing

three steps to whisking salad dressing in a white bowl.

This is a super kid-friendly pasta recipe because mixing up this dressing is as easy as opening a couple of containers and pouring dressing in a bowl!

Mix the two dressings together in a large measuring cup or bowl (1). Stir in the grated parmesan (2).

Voila! You just made the dressing!

Prep the veggies

Steam some broccolini and open a jar of canned calabrian chiles.

Done!

Pro Tip

To easily steam the broccolini, use a steamer over a couple of inches of lightly boiling water and steam for about 7-8 minutes until tender and bright green. Don’t over do it – there’s nothing worse than overcooked broccoli!

Mixing

steps to add cream sauce to cooked pasta in a big stockpot.

Pour the dressing over the cooked and drained pasta (3).

Mix with a wooden spoon until the pasta is well-coated with the dressing (4).


TIP

If making ahead, reserve a little salad dressing for tossing with the pasta salad right before serving.

-Josie + Nina

Additional Topping Ideas

Think of this creamy pasta salad as a room temperature version of Fettuccine Alfredo. So you can accessorize it however you like!

Some ideas:

  • Cooked Chicken or Beef – Add some of my Foolproof Chicken sliced up for a complete and easy dinner recipe.
  • Roasted red peppers and garlic – A little homemade roasted garlic and some red peppers add even more Italian flavor.
  • Caramelized onions and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Serving & Storage

Make ahead

Mix the dressing up the day before. Cook the pasta up then too. Mix them all together the day you plan to serve it. Save a little dressing to toss with the pasta right before serving as the pasta absorbs a lot of dressing when made ahead.

Don’t add the toppings until right before serving.

Storage/ Reheat

Store in a covered container for up to five days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving. I don’t recommend you freeze pasta salad.


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


large white serving bowl of creamy bowtie pasta topped with broccolini and red chiles.
5 from 4 votes

Creamy Italian Pasta Salad

A four ingredient pasta salad recipe that is kid-friendly and loaded with flavor. Whether eaten warm or cold, a great side dish for your favorite chicken, beef or pork.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Total Time:25 minutes
Servings 8

Equipment

  • steamer, optional

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Don't overcook!
  • In a medium bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together including the parmesan.
  • While the pasta is cooking, steam some broccolini until bright green and tender, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside to cool.
  • Toss the dressing with the pasta. If the pasta is still warm when you mix it with the dressing, reserve a little dressing for tossing with right before serving if you aren't eating right away.
  • Garnish with the steamed broccolini, a generous sprinkling of sunflower seeds, and some chopped Calabrian chiles.

Notes

Make ahead. Mix the dressing up the day before. Cook the pasta up then too. Mix them all together the day you plan to serve it. Save a little dressing to toss with the pasta right before serving as the pasta absorbs a lot of dressing when made ahead.
Storage/Reheat. Store in a covered container for up to five days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving. Don’t freeze. 
 
Course: Main Course, Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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4 Comments

  1. I made this in the summer for an outdoor gathering at our summer place and it was such a hit. I was asked for the recipe. I’m having a small dinner gathering next week and it’s one of the things I’m going to put it on the menu. Easy and delicious.5 stars

  2. Tried this and was a big hit, very yummy. I added some fresh arugula to it as well and worked well with other ingredients. Upped the amount of calabrian chilis too, my guys like a little more heat.

    Next time I may made add some roasted pine nuts – think that would work well with it too.

    Thanks again Lori!5 stars

    1. Hi Annette! So glad you all liked it…the easiest pasta salad. It’s Jim’s Aunt Rose’s recipe and she was a great cook and entertainer ♥️ just like you! Love the idea of the pine nuts…Trader Joe’s sells them already roasted too 😊