Italian Grinder Pasta Salad

4.66 from 26 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 grinder.

If you want to opt out for a lower carb option, you can substitute the pasta fully with lettuce instead. This salad is the perfect recipe to bring to a gathering or the ultimate side dish if you’re hosting. It’s begging to be taken to a picnic.

The dressing is so creamy and absolutely chug-able; it’s excellent on any salad that features crunchy lettuce. A 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. You can add or take away to this recipe and make everything to taste.

Italian Grinder Pasta Salad

This Italian grinder pasta salad will be your new favorite dish this spring and summer. This is my slightly lightened up, refreshing, seasonal take on the viral grinder. It is the perfect recipe to bring to a gathering or the ultimate side dish if you're hosting. It’s begging to be taken to a picnic.
4.66 from 26 votes
Servings: 4 people
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • 250 grams (1/2 pound) pasta shape of choice, boiled until al dente and cooled to room temp, (I used Mafalda Corta)
  • 1 cup finely shredded lettuce (any variety)
  • cup small cubed salami , (I used garlic genoa)
  • cup small cubed cheese of choice, (I used grass-fed cheddar)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 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 each salt and 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!


You can add or take away any ingredients that you like in this recipe. If you don’t like something you can omit it or replace it with an ingredient that you do enjoy. Some ideas for additional ingredients: roasted or raw bell peppers, red onion, a second variety of cheese or cured meat. 
Use any short pasta shape of choice, such as bowtie, orecchiette, or penne. Make sure that you cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, which means it should have a bite to it. I cooked 250 grams of dry pasta which was 1/2 the pack and came out to about 3 cups cooked
While the pasta is cooling, put on some nice music and take the time to prep and chop all of the ingredients. Make sure you finely dice all of the ingredients so that they are more or less the same size and enjoyable for your palate.
You can use the convenient Amazon chopper if you don’t feel like using a knife to dice all the vegetables.
If you want the salad more creamy and saucy, feel free to double the dressing.
This salad stores beautifully covered well 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 before hand and assemble the day you are serving it to guests or family. 
If you don’t feel like eating pasta, feel free to substitute it all with lettuce instead. 
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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!