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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!
My family’s get-togethers are potluck style nine times out of ten. We each pick a course or two and bring something to my mom’s house for lunch or dinner. It keeps one person from having to do all the cooking (and dishes) and you get to try these amazing recipes you hadn’t thought of trying. During the summer months, there’s always an easy pasta salad recipe on the table and it’s usually one of the first things to go. 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.
HOW TO MAKE MY EASY VEGETABLE PASTA SALAD
This salad is perfect for outdoor barbecues and cookouts. There’s no mayo and all the fresh flavors will brighten any meal. There are two things I really love about this recipe.
- 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.
- You can make this recipe ahead of time and it travels well.
Those two things alone are the makings for a perfect potluck dish!
WHAT GOES IN A PASTA SALAD?
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 kind of pasta, but small pastas are easy to grab with your fork and no slurping is required. My favorites are macaroni and rotini.
- Veggies – This recipe is super easy to customize. Softer veggies do work best because they are easier to chew. Things like tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, olives, onions and bell peppers are perfect. You can also add some fruit, like my Balsamic Strawberry Pasta Salad.
- Dressing – There are two main types of dressing for a pasta salad; cream-based or oil-based. An oil based dressing will likely not need refrigeration, making them perfect for summer barbecues where your dish will sit out for a bit. A cream based dressing can make it super delicious but will also need to be chilled as long as possible.
HOW TO MAKE A COLD PASTA SALAD DRESSING
For dressing this salad you have a couple options.
- You can use your own homemade Italian dressing if you have a favorite.
- Grab a bottom of salad dressing from the store.
You do you. Simple and easy is my jam some days. I used a roasted red pepper Italian dressing for this recipe and it was amazing! If you can’t find that type a regular zesty Italian, a balsamic vinaigrette or sun-dried tomato vinaigrette would all be great too. It’s all about making a dish you love and that suits your tastes.
Want more pasta salad recipes? Try these:
- Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad
- Caramelized Onion & Chicken Pasta Salad
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Balsamic Strawberry Pasta Salad
- Creamy Taco Pasta Salad
- Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces rotini pasta
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 medium-sized red onion
- 1 medium broccoli crown
- 3/4 cup roasted red pepper Italian dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and then rinse under cool water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and toss with vegetable oil to prevent sticking while you prepare the veggies.
- Cut each tomato in half lengthwise and add on top of the pasta.
- Core and seed the bell pepper. Dice the pepper and add it to the pasta bowl.
- Remove the skin from the onion, cut the onion almost in half (so there are 2 quarter pieces that touch at the root), and then thinly slice the onion. Rinse the onion under cold water and separate into strips. Dry with a paper towel and add to the pasta bowl.
- Remove the stem from your broccoli and then cut the tops into small, bite-sized pieces. Add to the pasta bowl.
- Pour the Italian dressing over the vegetables and pasta. Use a wooden spoon to gently toss everything together until well coated in the dressing.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.