Easy Pasta Salad

July 3, 2020  ·  Published May 24, 2018

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Pasta Salad is one of those staple recipes that’s been around for as long as we can remember, and for good reason — it’s amazingly delicious! This veggie packed version is easy thanks to the shortcut of zesty bottled Italian salad dressing.

So all you have to do is boil the pasta, chop the veggies and toss everything together.

cold pasta salad in a glass bowl with wooden spoon

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

This is a cold pasta salad, which means it’s perfect for summer. I also love that it can be made up to a day in advance, so if you are planning a summer get together you can check this off the list a day ahead.

And let’s not forget the main reason this is perfect for summer — all those colorful garden veggies (and some that are technically fruit). It’s such a great way to use up the abundance of veggies in season from either your garden, the farmers market or the grocery store.

Even though it uses a bottle of dressing, I’d still consider this one of the best pasta salads. Maybe it’s because it’s one of those sides that was always there in the summer growing up but it will always be one of my favorites.

pasta salad ingredients on marble countertop

Vegetarian Pasta Salad Ingredients

I kept this homemade pasta salad as simple as possible. For the pasta salad dressing, I used bottled Italian dressing but you’re welcome to make the dressing from scratch if desired.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this cold pasta salad recipe:

  • Tri-color rotini pasta
  • Bottled Italian dressing
  • Parmesan
  • Olives
  • Red onion
  • Baby carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Grape tomatoes
  • English cucumber
  • Yellow bell pepper

rinsing noodles for pasta salad

How to Make Pasta Salad

First, you’ll start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, then boil the pasta just to al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water.

Meanwhile while the pasta is cooking, you’ll chop up all those crisp colorful veggies.

To finish, you’ll add the well drained noodles, all the veggies and the Parmesan to a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss to evenly coat.

Could it get any easier? And it’s so tasty too! You’ll be lucky if you have any left.

chopped vegetables for pasta salad

How to Store Pasta Salad

Store this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing in an airtight container in the fridge. The salad will last up to 5 days, but it’s best enjoyed within the first 24 hours of making it.

What’s the best pasta for pasta salad?

You can use any short and sturdy pasta you have on hand. I used rotini pasta, but penne pasta or elbow macaroni would work in this recipe too.

mixing pasta salad together in bowl

Can I add different vegetables to the recipe?

Yes, feel free to use up whatever veggies you have in your fridge. Likewise, you can omit any veggies in this homemade pasta salad recipe if you’re not a fan of them.

Can I make this pasta salad in advance?

Yes, this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing can be made up to a day ahead of time. You don’t want to make it further in advance than that, as the veggies lose their crispness over time.

What about using a homemade dressing?

Prefer to ditch the store bought stuff? You can definitely use a homemade Italian salad dressing here instead. Or you can use your favorite brand, you don’t have to use the same as I did here (I think another tasty option would be the Olive Garden dressing).

vegetarian Pasta Salad in a bowl

What to Serve with Pasta Salad

This easy pasta salad goes well with just about anything. You just can’t go wrong with a zesty homemade pasta salad.

You can serve it with:

Garden Pasta Salad on a plate with fried chicken

Tips for the Best Pasta Salad

  • I prefer using Kraft Italian dressing for this vegetarian pasta salad, but any Italian dressing you like will work.
  • If you like cheese, try adding a cup of cubed mozzarella cheese to this salad.
  • Toss this salad just before serving to redistribute the Italian dressing.

More Pasta Salad Ideas You’ll Love:

Easy Pasta Salad {with fresh Veggies}

5 from 11 votes

The perfect easy shortcut pasta salad! Loaded with veggies and parmesan and finished off with a zesty dressing. This is a classic, go-to summer side dish.

Servings: 8
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 oz) box tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups diced English cucumber
  • 1 1/2 cups tiny chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup olives, sliced
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced baby carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/3 cups bottled Italian salad dressing (I prefer Kraft with this recipe)

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions to al dente but do not season water with salt (the dressing has plenty). Drain an rinse until cold water.

  2. Pour pasta into a bowl, add tomatoes, broccoli, bell pepper, olives, cucumber, carrots, red onion and parmesan.

  3. Pour dressing over and toss to evenly coat.

  4. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day). Add a little more dressing if needed.

Recipe Notes

  • If you like cheese, try adding a cup of cubed mozzarella cheese to this salad.
  • Toss this salad just before serving to redistribute the Italian dressing.
Nutrition Facts
Easy Pasta Salad {with fresh Veggies}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 322 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 773mg34%
Potassium 408mg12%
Carbohydrates 44g15%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 2441IU49%
Vitamin C 59mg72%
Calcium 121mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pasta Salad
Author: Jaclyn

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31 Comments

  • Lue

    This is a yummy pasta salad loaded with delicious fresh veggies from the farm market. I used Olive Garden dressing, which made it just incredible, I think. I also added some cheese, and my guests raved about the addition. I found Fall pasta in different shapes to add to the fun.

  • Nancy

    Every other pasta salad recipe I could find had a few ingredients that I didn’t have in the house and yours had what I had in hand. Probably not the best way to choose a recipe, but in this case it worked out great. I didn’t have tri color rotini (ok, I guess I didn’t have everything) so used small rigatoni. Only other change I made was putting in about a tablespoon of mayo. I used Paul Newman’s oil and vinegar as reviewer suggested. It’s the only salad dressing I can find that has olive oil as first ingredient. All others I checked had canola oil as primary ingredient. Anyway, this was delicious.

  • Roy

    Hi
    Hope you are doing well.this is one of the best pastas salads so far.l made it and it went like wowow all the and my clients did enjoyed it thanks
    Regards
    Roy

  • Cheryl

    772mg of sodium per serving? Oh my gosh. I made it but only used about a half cup of dressing and added more garlic, onion, italian seasoning and a pinch of sugar. Turned out great.

  • Mel

    I made this for a camping trip (prepped everything before we left and mixed it all together about half an hour before we ate). It was a huge hit! Everyone loved it and went back for seconds! It is SO good!

    • Lauren

      I want to make this for my baby shower in August… but how much will this make? Should I double the recipe?

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        It makes enough for about 8 people, so it will just depend on how many other sides there will be and how many people at the event.

  • Pamela Ladd

    I use Newmans oil and vinegar salad dressing, so much better.

  • Walt

    Great recipe!!! it looks so complicated but you have broken down which makes it easy to prepare and also with other entrees