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Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoncini-Pecorino Vinaigrette

Anthony Contrino
Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

I'm not the biggest fan of summer, but I do what I can to make it more bearable, like taking advantage of all the top-of-its-peak summer produce. This pasta salad packs a flavorful punch, and the light pepperoncini and pecorino vinaigrette is the perfect pairing on a hot day.

Technique tip: Let the salad sit for 30 minutes to allow the dressing to penetrate the ingredients.

Swap option: Add any of your favorite Italian cured meats.


Pasta Salad
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (7-ounce) container grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, halved
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces pepperoni, quartered
  • 4 ounces (1/4-inch) thick sliced mortadella, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces (1/4-inch) thick sliced Genoa salami, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pound ciliegine (cherry size) mozzarella, halved
  • 1 large bunch basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish
  • 1 (1-pound) box cavatappi pasta
  • 2 pepperoncini, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon pepperoncini brine
  • 2 teaspoons clover honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pecorino
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup floral extra-virgin olive oil


For the pasta 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.

For 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.

To assemble:

Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and gently toss to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes, then gently toss again and serve.