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Pasta Salad Recipe – Spend With Pennies

This easy pasta salad recipe has pasta tossed with fresh veggies, cheese, and a simple tangy dressing.

Serve it as a side for any gathering potluck or picnic, or serve it as a refreshing make-ahead meal on a warm day.

Easy Pasta Salad in a bowl
  • It’s quick and easy to make with ingredients you have on hand.
  • Use whatever veggies you have, any shape of pasta, and even bottled dressing if you’d prefer.
  • Potluck perfect, this pasta salad recipe is best made ahead of time.
  • It’s a hearty side dish that everyone loves. It also makes a great easy dinner or workday lunch.
ingredients to make pasta salad including cucumber, dressing, olives, tomatoes, pasta, cheese, bell pepper, and onion

Basic Pasta Salad Ingredients

Pasta – Any medium pasta shape works. Favorites include rotini pasta (or tri-color rotini), bow ties (farfalle), fusilli, or penne. Pasta with nooks and crannies hold the dressing better.

Vegetables Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers are a great combo for color and crunch, but any veggie goes.

Cheese – I love feta but swap it out for fresh mozzarella or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Flavors Boost the flavor with red onion, chopped olives, and feta cheese.

Dressing – A light vinaigrette brings all the flavors together in this pasta salad recipe. Use the DIY dressing recipe below or use a bottled vinaigrette, Italian or Greek dressing.

Ingredients for an easy pasta salad on a cutting board


Change it up and add in new textures and flavors. Almost anything goes in a cold pasta salad!

  • Add a scoop of pesto and kalamata olives a bold flavor.
  • Add chicken, shrimp, or bacon bits for some extra protein.
  • Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving.

Once you know how much dressing to add to pasta salad, it’s easy to swap up the noodles or add-ins to your liking. This is the basic ratio for a pasta salad.

  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 5-6 cups of add-ins (veggies, meat, cheese)
  • 1 cup of dressing

How to Make Pasta Salad

  1. Cook pasta to al dente, drain, and rinse in cold water.
  2. Chop vegetables and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Toss vegetables and pasta with dressing (recipe below).
  4. Chill for 2 hours before serving.
Ingredients for an easy pasta salad in a white serving bowl

Tips for Perfect Pasta Salad

  • Cooking the pasta to al dente will keep it firmer as it soaks up the dressing.
  • Be generous with the dressing so the pasta can soak it up.
  • Allow time for the pasta salad to chill in the fridge, the flavor will be so much better!
  • Cut the add-ins fairly small so you get a bit of everything in every bite.
an an easy pasta salad in a white serving bowl with a serving spoon

Storing Pasta Salad

  • Make this simple summer salad a day ahead and keep it chilled until ready to serve!
  • Keep leftover pasta salad in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Pasta doesn’t thaw well, so freezing pasta salad isn’t advised. But since it’s so easy to make, simply start a fresh batch!

Pasta Salads for Summer

Did you make this Pasta Salad Recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

close up of an easy pasta salad in a white serving bowl with a serving spoon
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Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Pasta Salad with fresh veggies and a tangy Italian dressing is perfect for a potluck or backyard BBQ!

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Chill Time 2 hours

Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes

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  • In a large pot, boil pasta in salted water until al dente (firm) according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.

  • Meanwhile, chop the cucumber, grape tomatoes, bell pepper, and red onions.

  • In a large bowl, combine your cooked and cooled pasta, prepared vegetables, Italian dressing, and fresh parsley. Toss well to coat.

  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and gently stir in feta cheese.

  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend and the pasta to soak in the dressing.

Any medium pasta can be used. Be sure to cook al dente (firm) as the dressing will soften the pasta further. Rinse under cold water once cooked to stop it from cooking. Dress the salad generously as the pasta will soak up the dressing. You can use any vegetables in this recipe (including leftover cooked/roasted vegetables). Additional favorites include zucchini, peas, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Optional but delicious additions include ham, bacon, salami, sundried tomatoes, pesto, artichokes, or finely diced broccoli. To make a quick homemade pasta salad dressing, whisk the following:
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil
  • 1 teaspoon each honey and Dijon mustard
  • While whisking, very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil until incorporated. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 233 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 258mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 896IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Easy Pasta Salad with crunchy veggies and writing
Easy Pasta Salad with tangy dressing and writing
ingredients in a bowl to make Easy Pasta Salad and plated dish with a title
close up of Easy Pasta Salad in a bowl with a spoon and title

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