Confetti Pasta Salad

Confetti Pasta Salad

Hookay so… my Instagram semi-exploded the other day when I posted a photo of my pregnancy-induced pasta salad-a-thon.  I think it’s a combination of everyone being giddy with excitement over spring and summer produce breaking us out of our winter rut as well as the fact that pasta is [let's face it] the ultimate comfort food.  It holds a dear place in my heart [and duh, stomach!] simply because it’s so flipping versatile.  [ok it doesn't hurt that there are noodles involved too!] I can whip up a bowl with nearly any random combination of fridge and pantry ingredients and it can be ready in a moment’s notice.  This is absolutely perfect around BBQ/party/potluck season in the Spring and Summertime and, in true military fashion, I usually find out about most of these events a few hours before I have to attend them.  It’s my speedy savior and always an instant hit.  It’s also one of those dishes that, when I make it, results in a full-blown husband happy dance.  [which looks a lot like this if you're curious]  I think it’s safe to say that I make this a lot =)  I love a good happy dance!

So I have a few plans in the works.  I want to finally sit down and write up my dressing combinations for you kids.  There are a LOT of them.  All quick.  All easy.  Some can even be made entirely with pantry ingredients alone.  Oh and they’re all flipping delicious!  I also want to write down all my favorite pasta salad combinations, since this dish can literally be made a thousand and one ways.  I’m happy to do this.  Not because I love you or anything [I do. Dearly] but because I really want an excuse to eat more pasta salad.

Until then, here’s my go-to recipe.  This is the one I’ve been making non-stop since the temps started getting warmer outside and yes, the very same pasta salad I teased you guys with on Instagram.  Sorry about that!

Vegetarian Confetti Pasta Salad
Confetti Pasta Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: side dish, potluck
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • one 12 oz box of tri-color rotini pasta
  • two cups of elbow macaroni
  • 1-2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups of sliced mini peppers or diced bell peppers
  • ½ a large english cucumber
  • finely grated parmesan and romano cheese
  • salt and pepper, if desired

  • I love the look/texture of combining some elbow macaroni with the rotini but feel free to skip it if you don't have any on hand! It's more of an add-on than a necessity

  • Simple + Speedy Italian Dressing:
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP mrs dash italian seasoning [it tastes AMAZING on everything]
  • ½ TBSP of garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, if desired, to taste

  • Craving a creamy dressing? Mix the above Italian dressing recipe with your favorite homemade or natural store-bought Caesar dressing. I always go with the Naturally Fresh brand in the salad aisle.
Instructions
  1. To make the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together and allow to sit. Giving the dressing some time to mingle will not only infuse flavor into the oil/vinegar but also soften the dry herbs and seasoning. It should keep in your fridge for about a week, if needed.
  2. note: I use the entire batch of dresing for the pasta salad and then make a second ½ cup of dressing for the following day. Once the pasta has spent 24 hours marinating in the fridge it has pretty much soaked up all your yummy dressing -- adding more coats the pasta and amps up the flavor.
  3. Bring a large pot of water [about 4 to 6 quarts] to a boil.
  4. Boil noodles for around 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, for al dente pasta. To prevent sticking, feel free to add a little bit of oil to the pot. I add a spoonful of my favorite coconut oil and have to refrain from sticking my hand in the pot to eat them prematurely.
  5. After 7 minutes has passed, scoop out a noodle and test for tenderness.
  6. Once they're ready, remove from heat and strain in a colander to remove the water. As long as the noodles are hot they'll continue cooking, if you prefer to add the dressing to hot noodles [some say it helps the noodles soak up the flavor] then cook them more on the al-dente side and less tender. If you plan on rinsing your noodles with cold water to halt the cooking process, then you can cook them until they reach your ideal tenderness. Totally a matter of preference! It seems silly to mention it but the last thing I want is for you to end up with mushy noodles, those are about as fun as a bag of wet mice. [or hungry bloggers]
  7. While your noodles are cooking, chop your veggies. I like to slice my mini peppers into rings and halve my cherry tomatoes. For the cukes, I cut the entire cucumber into quarters and then slice into little triangles. I get more veggies per forkful this way and I love the way it looks.
  8. By the time you've finished chopping your noodles should be done!
  9. Add your veggies and dressing to the mix and toss to incorporate.
  10. Dust the entire bowl with parmesan romano cheese and dig. on. in.
have a lemon handy?
The last batch I made I added both the zest and juice of a lemon to and LOVED the refreshing twist it added to the salad.  Curious? Test it out by grating a little bit of zest and adding juice to a small serving of the salad and if you love it, add it to the whole batch!
vegansaurus chefs skip the cheesy topping and you’re good to to!
t-rex chefs you can add cubed ham/turkey if you’d like but my carnivore husband insists it’s awesome without – let your stomach be your guide!

Confetti Pasta Salad
Sliced Sweet Mini Peppers

Feel free to whip up extra dressing so anyone that wants a little extra can drizzle it on their salad.  I add an extra half cup of dressing the following day since the noodles soak up the goodness overnight.  I think it’s safe to say that this salad is great the first day, and even better the next!

Confetti Pasta Salad

so… how was it? I think I’ve confessed my love to this pasta salad three or four times in this post so far, so let’s do this once more: I LOVE THIS STUFF!  I don’t typically make it in the fall or winter so the fact that it’s finally “pasta salad season” has me craving it like a madman.  The Italian dressing has a higher vinegar content than most and gives the salad a real kick of flavor while the cheese compliments the zesty dressing and crunchy veggies perfectly.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

in case you’re still famished, here are a few more healthy options:
Tortellini Pasta SaladSummery Chickpea & Pepper SaladPesto Tomatoes
Homestyle Macaroni SaladGarlicky Kale SaladVegetarian Taco Salad

What’s your favorite dish to dive into once temperatures start to heat up?

Comments

  1. says

    Seriously, pasta salad is entirely UNDERrated…and so are those baby sweet peppers! I (finally) found some organic ones at Publix the other day (when I was scootering my way up and down all the aisles looking for old people to run over…hey, Cat told me to! ;)) and proceeded to eat like half the bag once I got home!

    I’ve had some ideas running through my head for a recipe of my own ever since I went to an award banquet for work a couple of months ago and was served one of the most amazing pasta salads! I was literally taking baby bites of it the whole night, dragging it out as long as I could…I said I was just trying to focus on the flavors so that I could recreate it at home, but really, I just didn’t want it to end! Lol

    Your pics are gorgeous (as always) and are seriously making me crave summer! Oh, guess what! The man-friend is going to help me build a garden this year!! I’m so flippin’ excited…there is NOTHING like a fresh from the vine, juicy tomato!!

  2. says

    Oh my this does look amazing!! It has sleeted, snowed, reached 72 degrees, and poured cats and dogs here this past week…maybe I can make this and just pretend it’s spring?!

  3. says

    It looks very delicious and has me craving para salad at 0650!
    I love making pasta salad and always forget about it as a summer staple, so this year we’ll have to change that one temps at least reach 50 degrees consistently. Also, we make ours with veggie pasta. It brings another element of color and makes me feel a little healthier. I am so making some tonight after work…

    Thanks for the reminder of delicious easy yummy food.

  4. says

    I think this looks incredible! I am TOTALLY adding it to my weekly meal planning options! I’ll let you know how it turns out! Where do you find that Ms Dash Italian seasoning at?

    • says

      Nearly ever grocery store I’ve visited has had it so I’d say your local go-to store should too! Walmart and Target sometimes carry it too but your best bet is probably one of the larger grocery stores in your area! It’s DELICIOUS!

  5. says

    I will be making this so soon. I love the color but am really excited for the taste with all of the peppers. My husband and I will be living off of this stuff.

  6. says

    Celeste @ HealthfulMindBodyandSoul
    I made this and OMG it was good, I added some calamata olives and instead of cheese, I used nutritional yeast to add that cheesy, nutty flavor. I will definitely be using this salad all summer long.

  7. says

    Thank you for this pasta salad recipe! I love it, it is a keeper. I was lucky to find tri-colored cherry tomatoes at my store, which added even more color. I doubled the vinaigrette recipe and used almost all of it, before serving. I made it about 6 hours ahead of time. I also followed your notes and added lemon (love lemon). I added the juice of a whole lemon. It was so good! My friends all commented that they loved it and took left overs. Thanks so much. Best wishes to you :)

    Shelley @ MyShepardsPie.com

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