This keto pasta salad is loaded with two kinds of cheese, salami, olives, and fresh low carb vegetables. All covered in a simple salad dressing, it’s the perfect appetizer to feed a crowd! 3 grams net carbs per serving.
Keto Pasta Salad
Growing up, my family always loved to have a barbecue during the warmer months. Every so often, my dad would whip out the grill and prepare a bunch of meat, poultry, and seafood for us to enjoy. While he’d be tending the main dishes, my mom would be inside preparing a plethora of sides.
My mom had a bunch of sides she’d always make, including coleslaw and a watermelon salad. However, it was her pasta salad that I was obsessed with. Unlike other pasta salads, mom’s wasn’t loaded with mayonnaise and basic vegetables. Instead, she added olives, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and douse it all in an Italian dressing. When I first moved out of home, I used to make it as part of my weekly meal prep. Since going keto, it’s been my mission to recreate it!
I’ve been meaning to share a keto pasta salad recipe for quite some time. Ever since I had easy access to a delicious keto macaroni style pasta, I’ve been using it in anything and everything. This Italian pasta salad is great as an appetizer, side dish, or even eaten on its own!
Now, this pasta salad may look incredibly fancy but I promise you, it is so easy to make! It’s full of incredible textures- Chewy pasta, soft mozzarella pearls, crisp onions, and thick chunks of salami throughout. It’s full of Italian flavors, complimented by the fabulous dressing!
I had some friends over for a barbecue and served this salad on the side and NO ONE believed me that it was low carb- They thought it tasted like any good salad!
How do you make a keto pasta salad?
- Keto macaroni pasta– I used Great Low Carb Bakery rotini pasta which looks, tastes, and cooks like real macaroni! If you’d like a homemade version, try making almond flour pasta.
- Grape tomatoes– Sliced in half. Grape tomatoes work better than whole tomatoes as they don’t get squashed when mixed and have a sweeter flavor.
- Mozzarella cheese– Fresh mozzarella balls (also known as mozzarella cheese pearls). You can also use baby bocconcini if you can’t find the pearls.
- Olives– A mix of black and green olives, pitted and sliced.
- Red onion– A must for any good pasta salad.
- Salami OR deli sausage– Optional, but adds protein and also some salty and peppery flavor.
- Italian dressing– The staple for a pasta salad. Alternatively, you can use any keto salad dressing.
- Parmesan cheese– Freshly grated to serve.
Start by cooking the pasta as directed. Once cooked and al dente, drain and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the pasta to a large mixing bowl. Next, add all the ingredients, except for the dressing and parmesan cheese, and mix until combined. Drizzle with your dressing and mix until combined.
Now, transfer the salad onto a serving dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, or refrigerate it if you’d like a chilled pasta salad.
Tips to make the best low carb pasta salad
- Don’t start mixing the ingredients together if the pasta is still warm. You risk the mozzarella cheese melting and holding the pasta together.
- Use mozzarella pearls/baby mozzarella balls. They hold their shape and distribute evenly throughout. Grated or shredded mozzarella can be used in a pinch.
- Feel free to add other low carb vegetables or proteins to it. Chopped chicken, ham, and smoked salmon are all fantastic options.
Storing and freezing keto macaroni salad
- To store: Pasta salad should be stored in the refrigerator, covered. It will keep well for up to 5 days.
- To freeze: Place leftover salad in a shallow container and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. The salad must be thawed completely, before serving.
More keto appetizer recipes to try
Keto Pasta Salad
- Cook your pasta as directed, until just al dente. Drain and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Add the pasta into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the dressing, until combined. Add the dressing and mix until just incorporated.
- Transfer to a salad bowl and serve immediately, or refrigerate it for at least an hour, to chill.