This Italian Pasta Salad is so easy to make in just a few minutes with rotini pasta, cucumber, red peppers, tomatoes, olives and green onions. Seasoned with a quick homemade Italian dressing. It’s a must have cold side dish for any BBQ or potluck!
Pasta salads are a go-to dish for us this Summer. I love this Orzo Pasta Salad so much I decided to make another quick recipe to take to a friends a few weeks ago. This one is loaded with more fresh vegetables and then tossed with a very simple dressing.
You can also add a favorite Italian meat if you’d like. Pepperoni, Italian salami or pancetta are all wonderful common additions.
What makes this pasta salad so easy?
For starters, all you have to do is boil some water and cook the pasta, making sure to not overcook the pasta. It is much better if it’s al dente and not soggy. I like to use rotini pasta (the tri-colored is fun). Fusilli, penne or farfalle pasta are all great options too.
Let the pasta cool prior to adding the vegetables. (I have been known to rinse it with cold water)
Then dice up 4 or 5 different vegetables and herbs. Cut the vegetables in small pieces so a little of each can be found in each bite.
Mix up the easy homemade Italian dressing of lemon juice. olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic and toss it all together. (full recipe below)
Pasta salad is the perfect make ahead dish that gets better the longer it sits! The dressing absorbs into the pasta making the flavors bold and wonderful! I would plan on at least 20 minutes but the longer the better!
If you need something quick for a party, this will save you for sure! Another quick tip is to use a bottle of your favorite Italian dressing instead of making the homemade one. I would add a cup of bottled dressing and see if that is enough to coat the pasta and veggies. Then add more if necessary.
You can easily make this pasta salad with gluten free pasta too! (which is what I typically do) And it can also be vegan friendly if you swap out the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast in the dressing.
Easy Homemade Italian Pasta Salad Dressing
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup of olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast for vegan option)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
What goes with Pasta Salad?
Pasta salads are the best side side for so many meals! It’s perfect alongside burgers, grilled Italian chicken or steak kabob’s. I love it with these Buffalo Turkey Burgers or this Grilled Bruschetta Chicken!
It’s such a hearty dish, it can even be served as a main dish along with some Italian bread or focaccia bread.
Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 lb rotini pasta
- 1 whole english cucumber seeded, halved and sliced
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1 whole orange bell pepper cored and diced
- 1 whole red bell pepper cored and diced
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1/4 cup scallions sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
- Parmesan Cheese optional
- Pepperoni sliced, optional
- Juice of 2 lemons about 1/3 cup
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for vegan option
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Cook pasta per package directions
- Drain pasta and add to a large serving bowl.
- Dice and slice all vegetables and add to the pasta.
- Mix dressing ingredients in a carafe or mason jar and shake well.
- Pour all dressing over top of vegetables
- Toss well to coat.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top with parmesan cheese if desired.