This tasty Classic Italian Veggie Pasta Salad is made with the easiest homemade Italian dressing ever! The salad can be made the night before, making it perfect for Summer BBQs. Everyone always begs for the recipe!
Let’s face it, there are more than two ways to tango and nearly a million billion ways to pasta your salad. When it comes to this warm weather favorite, nearly anything goes! It’s the unofficially official side dish of picnics and barbecues alike and here in the South, pasta salad is quite frankly the American thing to do!
There’s no wrong way to make one, unless of course you’re using olives in which case we may NEVER SPEAK AGAIN!
Away with you!
Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
You CAN’T SIT WITH US!
Phew! I’m SO happy I got that off my back! I’m joking of course. I love many individuals who like olives, the most vile vegetable of life, and don’t love them any less because of it. Well maybe a little. I mean come on, it’s OLIVES!
Since it’s hotter than Hades outside, let’s embrace the heat and chill our pasta. It’s simply the right thing to do. Here’s my simple, speedy, sassy little pasta salad recipe that always goes over like gangbusters around here.
Make extra dressing, you’ll want to pour it over salads all Summer long!
Classic Italian Veggie Pasta Salad
You'll probably want to double the dressing recipe - this pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing is oh so tasty!
12 minPrep Time
8 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
- 3 cups elbow macaroni [one 12oz box]
- 1-2 cups of cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 cups of diced bell peppers
- 1-2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 1/2 a large seedless cucumber
- finely grated parmesan or feta cheese (choose your favorite!)
- salt and pepper, if desired
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 TBSP Mrs Dash Italian Seasoning, plus extra to taste
- 1 TBSP of garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp of salt, extra to taste
- 1/8-1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, if desired
- Bring a large pot of water (about 4 quarts) to a boil and cook pasta per package instructions.
- While your noodles cook, chop your veggies and make the dressing.
- Whisk all ingredients together and allow to sit. Giving the dressing ingredients some time to mingle will not only infuse flavor into the oil/vinegar but also soften the dry herbs and seasoning.
- 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.
- Once your noodles are tender and al dente, remove from heat and strain in a colander.
- 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 crayons.
- Combine pasta and veggies in a large bowl with your dressing and mix.
- Dust the entire bowl with parmesan or feta cheese and dig. on. in.
- (see below for make-ahead instructions)
Make this salad as veggie-heavy as you'd like! Some prefer just a kiss of veggies in a sea of pasta goodness while others (like myself) love to load up on the veggies! Find your happy ratio and run with it.
Craving a creamy dressing? Mix the above Italian dressing recipe with your favorite homemade or store-bought Caesar dressing. It's a tad magical!
MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS: When making this salad the night before, I use the entire batch of dresing for the pasta salad and then make a second 1/2 cup or so of dressing for the following day. Once the pasta has spent 24 hours chilling in the fridge it will have soaked up all your yummy dressing -- adding more coats the pasta and amps up the flavor! We love it!
vegansaurus chefs: skip the cheese and this sassy salad is vegan!
t-rex chefs: You could even totally add meat to the equation… Cubed ham/turkey/chicken, crunchy bacon, or even salami…
I don’t. Ever. Ever, ever. But I’m a pasta salad purist, feel free to add your favorite protein options into the mix if you’re entertaining your inner T-Rex!
I love this classic Italian veggie pasta salad as is, but if you’re in the mood to jazz things up, here are a few tasty dressing options to try…
Easy homemade dressing recipes that pair perfectly with pasta salad:
so. . . how was it?!
This is our family’s favorite! I alternate using feta and parmesan cheese for the topping (they’re both so good!) and use whatever veggies I need to use up! This is a great recipe for emptying your crisper drawer and way more fun than your garden-variety garden salad, especially when you’ve been eating so.many.salads lately.
This is also the perfect crowd pleaser for picnics, parties, and barbecues so make a big bowl to share and watch it disappear! You can even prep it ahead of time for a speedy, portable party dish. Hope y’all love it as much as we do!
I always have to print out a few copies of this bad boy when I bring it places because I get straight up harassed for it. I don’t blame them one bit!