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This Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad recipe is one of my go-to summer side dish recipes. It comes together in a snap and can be made ahead of time for a great menu addition!

It’s one of my favorite Cookout Side Dishes for BBQs and other spring and summer get-togethers. It’s great for indoor bbq food, too, like BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches or Baked Chili Cheese Dogs year round.

Vegetables and rotini pasta in a large bowl.
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Why We Love This Vegetable Pasta Salad Recipe

This salad is a fantastic starter pasta salad. It’s delicious, but you can also take it up a few notches with the right ingredients. Add your own flair and you’ll have everyone eating out of your hand…and asking for the recipe!

  • Perfect for potlucks – Whether you’re headed to a Backyard BBQ or a church basement, this vegetable pasta salad is perfect!
  • Easy and Fast – You can whip this pasta salad up in about 15 minutes!
  • Clean out your Fridge – Grab whatever pasta you have on hand – doesn’t have to be rotini – and grab whatever raw veggies you have on hand. This recipe is super easy to customize.
  • All the colors! You can substitute or add any of your favorite fresh vegetables. It’s all about a gorgeous dish that’s good for you.
  • Make Ahead – You can make this recipe a day ahead of time, and it travels well.


There are three main elements: Pasta, veggies and dressing. Some salads also include a protein like shrimp or chicken.

  • Pasta – You can really use any pasta, but small pastas are easy to grab with your fork and no slurping is required. My favorite is rotini because it catches the dressing in the spirals.
  • Vegetables – As shown, I use red onion, bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini and tomatoes in my veggie pasta salad.
  • Kalamata Olives – Optional. If you’re not a fan of the briney taste, you could use regular black olives instead.
  • Italian Salad Dressing – Grab your favorite bottled dressing, or make your own if you prefer. A regular zesty Italian, a balsamic vinaigrette or sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, even a simple oil and vinegar dressing would all be great too. It’s all about making a dish you love and that suits your tastes.

How to Make Vegetable Pasta Salad

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside. You can toss with a little of the dressing or with olive oil to keep it from sticking, but that’s not always necessary.
  • Saute the vegetables just to slightly soften, making them easier to eat in the salad.
  • Toss the pasta, veggies and kalamata olives together in a large bowl. Drizzle some Italian dressing over the pasta salad and gently toss to coat.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with fresh Parmesan.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Mixed vegetables in a skillet.
Rotini, kalamata olives, vegetables in a white bowl with Italian dressing.
Salad tongs holding a serving of pasta salad with vegetables.

Best Pasta for Pasta Salad

Choose dried pasta over fresh. It can be served at room temperature or chilled and it hold up better to a variety of dressings.

Use Short Cut Pastas. Shorter, smaller pastas, like rotini, farfalle, penne, macaroni or fusilli have more nooks and crannies for dressings to have something to grab on to. Plus their size makes them easier to eat.

Optional Add-ins

Make this salad something really special by adding a few upgrades:

  • Cheese – Grated or shredded Parmesan works in my Zesty Italian Pasta Salad so it would work great here as well. A little Feta goes great with Italian dressing, and so does freshly grated Mozzarella.
  • Veggies – What you see pictured is what I had on hand and I really wanted some color. You could add just about any raw veggie you can think of, like mushrooms, shredded carrots, snap peas, red cabbage, bell pepper (any color), sliced olives or cucumbers. Tougher veggies like broccoli or green beans could be blanched first to make them easier to chew.
  • Herbs and Seasonings – Fresh herbs are a salad’s best friend! I love adding fresh Italian parsley and fresh chives to my salads. Depending on the flavor of the dressing you could also add fresh basil or oregano. A little fresh minced garlic or even a sprinkling of garlic powder would be wonderful.

Helpful Tips

  • When cutting an onion for a salad (meaning you don’t plan to cook it), rinsing the slices under cold water will help to give it a more mild bite. Dry with a paper towel before adding to your salad.
  • Try to keep your cuts fairly evenly for all the veggies, and even with the size of the pasta. This will make the salad easier to eat.
  • Be careful not to overcook or undercook your pasta. You want it to be al dente, which means that it it soft but still has a slight bite to it. Overcooking will result in mushy pasta, and undercooking results in hard to chew pasta.
  • Make sure to season the boiling water generously for the pasta, and season the salad with salt and pepper. Nobody likes bland pasta.
  • The pasta doesn’t have to be cooled down completely. Adding the dressing while the pasta is still a little warm will help the noodles to absorb the flavors. I recommend adding about half of the dressing while it’s warm, then add the remainder just before serving to freshen it up.
  • Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days, but dressed pasta salads are best served fresh, within a couple of hours of adding the dressing.
Rotini, vegetables, parmesan cheese in a small bowl with a fork.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Rotini pasta and vegetables with parmesan cheese on top in a large glass bowl.

Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

4.88 from 8 votes
Vegetable Pasta Salad recipe is a perfect summer side dish for BBQs and Parties. Simple, fresh ingredients, and ready in 15 minutes.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 16 ounces rotini pasta or other small cut pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups broccoli florets chopped
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 2 bell peppers (any color) cored and cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion peeled adn thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing Any brand or flavor
  • Parmesan cheese optional, if desired
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  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, seasoning generously with salt.
  • Drain the pasta and then rinse under cool water. Set aside too cool to room temperature.
  • While the pasta is cooking, saute the vegetables just to soften slightly. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add broccoli florets and zucchini to the skillet and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add bell peppers and tomatoes and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper, then add the red onion and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta, kalamata olives and vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle on the Italian dressing and gently toss everything together until well coated.
  • Top with shredded Parmesan cheese and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Feel free to customize with your favorite vegetables and dressing. You could also add things like shredded Parmesan of crumbled feta, sliced olives or pepperoncinis.


Calories: 322kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 9gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 370mgPotassium: 440mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1390IUVitamin C: 76mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Julie Espy

Food nerd. Cocktail enthusiast. Carboholic. Bacon addict. Basset nuzzler. Boy mom. Come eat something delicious with me at Bread Booze Bacon!

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  1. Joshua Thorsnes says:

    I made it for work an people love it thank you so much.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Joshua! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Lynelle Holmes says:

    This was delicious! It was a hit at the work luncheon. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Lynelle, thank you so much for taking the time to leave some positive feedback.

  3. skype login says:

    We usually rotate who gets to bring the pasta salad, but some days we luck out and get two. We’re into carbs like that. haha. This is interesting