Grinder Pasta Salad

4.65 from 34 votes

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This 🇮🇹 Italian Grinder Pasta Salad will be your new favorite dish this spring and summer. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I am sure you have seen the viral grinder sandwiches all over social media. As much as I love a good sandwich, I also love a pasta salad. This is my slightly lightened up, refreshing, seasonal take on the viral sensation. It’s begging to be taken to a 🧺 picnic, or any summer gather.

Why You’ll Love Grinder Pasta Salad

The dressing for this Grinder Pasta Salad is so creamy and absolutely chug-able; it’s excellent on any salad that features crunchy 🥬 lettuce. The creamy mayo base gets a hit of spice and pungency from mustard and fresh garlic. The beauty of this salad is that you can make it with any ingredients you have on hand and make everything to taste. It has protein, carbs, veggies…it’s a full, delicious 🍽️ meal that’s absolutely delicious.

How to Prepare Grinder Pasta Salad

🔥 In a pot on the stove, boil the pasta in salted water as per the package directions for al dente.

💦 Strain the pasta and let it cool completely.

🔪 Now, using a sharp knife, finely shred the lettuce.

🌶️ Then, cube the salami and cheese, halve the tomatoes, finely chop the cucumber and slice the olives and pepperoncini. Add to a large serving bowl along with  2 tablespoons olive juice.  

❄️ Next, add the cooled pasta to the bowl.

🧂 In a measuring cup, mix the mayo, mustard, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.

😋 Then, taste the salad and adjust the seasonings as desired.

🥣 Pour the dressing on top of the salad, mix, and enjoy!

Nonna’s Tip

Make sure you finely dice all the ingredients so that they are more or less the same size and enjoyable for your palate. This way, you’ll get each flavour in every bite!

Grinder Pasta Salad
Grinder Pasta Salad

Variations and Substitutions for Grinder Pasta Salad

  1. Make this salad low-carb by adding in more 🥬 lettuce instead of the pasta.
  2. Some ideas for additional ingredients include roasted or raw 🫑 bell peppers, red onion, a second variety of cheese or cured meat. 
  3. Use any short pasta shape of choice, such as 🎀 bowtie, orecchiette, or penne.
  4. If you want the salad even creamier, I suggest doubling the dressing.
  5. If you’re vegetarian, use chickpeas or tofu instead of the salami.
  6. If you’re making this vegan, use regular Dijon instead of honey Dijon (you can add a drizzle of agave or 🍁 maple syrup for sweetness) and use your favorite Veganaise. In that case, also omit the cheese or replace it with a plant-based alternative.

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Common Questions

can I make this grinder pasta salad ahead?

This salad stores beautifully covered well and in the fridge for up to 3 days. I would leave out the tomatoes and lettuce so that they don’t become soggy, and add those ingredients right before serving/eating. You can also prep all of the ingredients beforehand and assemble the salad the day you are serving it. Keep the dressing covered in a mason jar until ready to mix.

can I make this grinder pasta salad gluten-free?

Yes, absolutely! Simply omit the pasta altogether and add more lettuce, or use your favorite gluten-free pasta instead.

can I make this recipe dairy-free?

Yes, this salad can be easily made dairy-free by simply omitting the cheese or swapping in your favorite non-dairy cheese instead.

Can this grinder salad be made vegan or vegetarian?

Yes, you can certainly adapt this Grinder Pasta Salad to be vegan or vegetarian. I would swap out the salami for tofu or chickpeas. Switch the mayo for a veganaise variety, and simply use regular Dijon instead of honey Dijon. Use your favorite non-dairy cheese here, or omit it entirely.

Any other ingredient suggestions?

The options are endless: Try roasted red peppers, capers, ham cubes, pistachios, bell peppers, provolone or mozzarella cheese. Oven-crisped prosciutto would be YUM sprinkled on top.

Grinder Pasta Salad

This is my slightly lightened up, refreshing, seasonal take on the viral sensation that's perfect to bring to a gathering or the ultimate side dish if you're hosting. It’s begging to be taken to a picnic.
4.65 from 34 votes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 250 grams pasta, shape of choice, boiled until al dente and cooled to room temp (I used Mafalda Corta)
  • 1 cup lettuce (any variety), finely shredded
  • cup salami , cubed into small pieces, I used Garlic Genoa
  • cup grass-fed cheddar cheese, or any variety, cubed into small pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 1 cup cucumber , finely chopped
  • cup sliced green olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive juice
  • cup finely sliced pepperoncini pepper, (optional) or use sweet peppers if you don't like spice

Grinder Dressing

  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard , or regular Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  • Add the cooled pasta, shredded lettuce, salami, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, green olives with juice, and pepperoncini (if using) to a large serving bowl.

Grinder Dressing

  • In a measuring cup, mix the mayo, mustard, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Pour the dressing on top of the salad, mix, and enjoy!



Calories: 544kcal, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 950mg, Potassium: 391mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 507IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 121mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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  1. 5 stars
    I have made this three times since discovering it in May! I most recently made it last weekend and added diced pepperoni, roasted red peppers, and green onion. The dressing is THE BEST! This is absolutely going in my rotation, thank you for the great recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    So delicious! I made this with the addition of diced red onion and my family about lost their minds (in a good way). In the word’s of my mom “this recipe is a keeper!”

  3. 5 stars
    Wow! This is amazing! Compared to “traditional” pasta salad this packs a punch of flavor. The dressing is so simple to make and the best part is the minimal ingredients without any additives or sugar. I love the amount this makes, it can easily be doubled. The lettuce and fresh vegetables are a great way to enjoy the fresh tastes of summer.

  4. 5 stars
    Tried it yesterday and my family loves this salad… although I forgot to add the olives LOL… good reason to have it again soon! I am looking for new salads to serve or to bring to a gathering, this one is perfect for both! Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this, used tricolor rotini, added provolone cheese and diced ham. I’m not one to get too hyped about salad dressing but this one hit all the right notes – absolutely delicious

  6. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe! I included ingredients to make it taste like a Connecticut-style grinder and my Connecticut-raised husband loved it. I just made it for the second time, and it will be a summer staple! Thank you!