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This delicious vegetable pasta salad recipe is perfect for a vegan/vegetarian pasta dinner, or as a side dish to a main course right off the grill.
When you’re out on the patio working the grill, those summer time aromas always grab you by the nostrils and let you know that, even if it’s just for this moment, life is good. And few things pair better with something grilled than a great pasta salad.
Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
Pasta salad is easy to throw together, even last minute. The only part that requires cooking here is cooking the pasta. This recipe assumes you’ve already done that. But I will give you this hint. Salt your pasta water with at least 1 tbsp. salt. It gives your pasta wonderful flavor.
Which Pasta Is Best For Pasta Salad?
You can use any pasta you like best. Certain shapes of pasta are best for certain types of recipes. And there are a few that are well suited for this particular recipe.
- Rotini – That’s what I used here because it grabs the sauce very nicely.
- Bow Tie – This won’t hold the sauce as well, but the texture works well here.
- Penne – This will hold the sauce better than bow tie, but not as well as rotini.
Healthy Pasta For Past Salad
You have a couple of choices if your focus is clean, healthy eating.
- Whole grain pasta – This is 100% whole grain, such as whole wheat pasta.
- Alternative pasta – This is pasta made from things like chickpeas or lentils. These are my favorites. I use the Banza brand (not paid to promote them. It’s just what I love)
Should You Rinse Pasta?
This is actually an important step when it comes to pasta. Here is the rule for whether to rinse or not.
- Gluten pastas – Wheat based pastas do not require rinsing or stirring.
- Gluten free pasta – They require rinsing and stirring (occasionally during cooking). If you don’t rinse gluten free pasta, the starch will make the noodles stick together in one sticky mass. I rinse mine and then follow up with stirring in a spritz or two with an oil sprayer.
Easy Vegetarian Pasta Salad
If you are vegan or vegetarian, this pasta is perfect for you! It’s naturally vegan, and vegetarians can easily add some grated parmesan for extra flavor and protein.
Other Pasta Salad Dressings
The dressing on this salad has an Italian flavor profile. But you don’t have to use it. Other dressings that would work well here is ranch dressing or a garlic lemon vinaigrette. Mustard Vinaigrette is a personal favorite.
Vegetarian Pasta Salad Ingredients
Pasta – Cook to package directions in salted water. This can be whatever your favorite type of pasta is.
Chopped red bell pepper – If you prefer a different color bell pepper, feel free to substitute. But the red gives this salad a nice sweetness.
Sliced black olives – Make sure there is no added sugar, though most olives are pretty safe. Never hurts to double-check though. They’ll put sugar in anything these days.
Chopped purple onion – You can use yellow onion too if you want. But purple onions are best for sweetness and flavor in a salad like this.
Grape tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes are fine too. Any small tomato will work. Just cut them in half and toss them in.
Raw zucchini – Slice these thin for the best texture. You can even quarter the slices if you want smaller pieces.
How To Make Pasta Salad
In a mixing bowl, combine the pasta and all the veggies except the tomatoes.
Add the dressing ingredients and stir well.
Lastly, gently stir in the tomatoes and fresh basil and season with salt and pepper.
Serve as a main meal or as a side dish.
How To Store Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is best stored in an air-tight container with a tight-fitting lid.
How Long Does Pasta Salad Stay Fresh?
This particular recipe is best eaten within 3 days but will last up to 5 days.
Can I Make Pasta Salad In Advance?
You can absolutely make this in advance. You can make it 1 to 2 days ahead of time. However, you will want to not put the dressing on until you are ready to serve the salad.
Can I Use Different Vegetables In This Recipe?
You can use any vegetables you prefer, in any quantity you prefer. This recipe is totally adjustable to your liking.
I made this salad to serve immediately. But for the best flavor:
- add the dressing just before serving
- adjust salt and pepper to taste
- add some grated parmesan cheese for extra flavor
What Goes With Pasta Salad?
If this won’t be a main meal, here are some main courses this vegetable pasta salad will go well with:
- Grilled Turkey Burgers
- Chickpea Burgers
- Pork Ribs
- Air Fryer Tuscan Chicken Thighs
- Lemon Caper Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Italian Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- Italian Shrimp
More Pasta Salad Recipes
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Rustic Italian Pasta Salad
- Turkey Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Cavatappi Pasta
- Chickpea Orzo Salad
- Easy Macaroni Salad
- Traditional Macaroni Salad
- Fiesta Macaroni Salad
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Vegetable Pasta Salad Recipe
Vegetable Pasta Salad
CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!
- Large mixing bowl
- 1 lb. pasta (cooked to package directions in salted water)
- 1½ cups chopped bell pepper
- 3.8 oz. can sliced black olives
- ½ cup chopped purple onion
- 10 oz. package grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
- 1 cup sliced & halved raw zucchini (slice thin)
- ¼ cup oil
- ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- fresh chopped basil (as much as you like)
- ground black pepper
- In a mixing bowl, combine the pasta and all the veggies except the tomatoes.
- Add the dressing ingredients and stir well.
- Lastly, gently stir in the tomatoes and fresh basil and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve as a main meal or as a side dish.