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.
Reading: main dish vegetarian pasta salad
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.
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.
Read more: 15 Best Potluck Side Dishes for Sharing
Here’s what you’ll need to make this cold pasta salad recipe:
- Tri-color rotini pasta
- Bottled Italian dressing
- Red onion
- Baby carrots
- Grape tomatoes
- English cucumber
- Yellow bell pepper
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.
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?
Read more: easy recipe for vegetarian eggplant dish
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.
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).
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:
- Grilled chicken or steak
- Skillet seared salmon or other fish
- Fried chicken
- Pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches
- Chicken salad sandwiches
- Cold turkey sandwiches or warm paninis
Read more: 25 Vegetarian Instant Pot Recipes
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:
- Best Macaroni Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Avocado Caprese Pasta Salad
- Mexican Macaroni Salad
- Poppy Seed Chicken and Grape Pasta Salad