Easy Pasta Salad Recipe – Spending on a budget

Flavorful and fresh, this is a totally effortless pasta salad recipe perfect for picnics!

This perfect pasta salad is made with lots of tender pasta mixed with crispy fresh veggies, cheese and a simple, vibrant, flavorful dressing.

It fits seamlessly into any menu, serves as an accompaniment to a potluck or as a refreshing ready meal on a warm day.

A simple pasta salad in a white serving bowl with parsley

simple noodle salad

  • Fast and easy, This recipe is the perfect way to showcase fresh seasonal vegetables.
  • It’s a great canvas for leftovers – Add any chopped chicken, leftover roasted vegetables, or cheese you have on hand.
  • Potluck perfect, this vibrant, flavorful salad is at its best made in advance.
  • Prepare a double serving and voila! Serve as a side dish at a summer BBQ and keep a bowl to yourself a light evening meal or for workday lunch all week long.

Basic ingredients for pasta salad

The best pasta salad starts with the basics, but it’s easy to customize.

pasta – Any medium-sized pasta shape will work. Favorites include pasta rotini (or tricolor rotini), bow ties, or penne. Pasta with holes, grooves, or curls will hold the dressing better.

Vegetables Cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are a great combination for color and crunch, but pretty much any veggie will do, too. Try spring peas, corn on the kernel, sliced ​​radishes, chopped spinach or sundried tomatoes!

flavors Enhance the flavor with red onions, a sprinkling of olives, or feta cheese.

dressing – A light vinaigrette brings together all the flavors in any pasta salad recipe. Use the DIY dressing recipe below or use a bottled vinaigrette and Italian or Greek dressing.

Ingredients for a simple pasta salad on a cutting board


Change it up, add new textures and flavors. Almost anything goes in a cold pasta salad!

  • Add a scoop of pesto, Kalamata olives, or tapenade for a bold flavor.
  • Add chunks of chicken, shrimp, or bacon for extra protein.
  • Swap out the feta for other cheeses like cubed mozzarella cheese or cheddar.
  • Enhance the flavor with marinated artichokes or a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Fresh herbs such as basil, dill or parsley ensure freshness and look pretty as a side dish. Fresh basil is best added before serving, but dill or parsley can also be added during preparation.

Once you know how much dressing to add to the pasta salad, it’s easy to swap out the pasta or side dishes to your liking. This is the basic ratio for a pasta salad.

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 5-6 cups additives (vegetables, meat, cheese)
  • 1 cup dressing

How to make pasta salad

  1. Cook pasta al dente, drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Chop the vegetables and place in a large bowl.
  3. Mix vegetables and pasta with dressing (per recipe below).
  4. Chill for 2 hours before serving.
Ingredients for a simple pasta salad in a white serving bowl

Tips for the perfect pasta salad

  • Cooking the pasta al dente will keep it firmer as it soaks up the dressing.
  • Serve generously as the pasta will soak up the dressing. For best results, spread the dressing liberally so the pasta can soak it up.
  • Let the pasta salad cool down in the fridge, then the taste will be much better!
  • Cut the side dishes fairly small so you get a bit of everything in every bite.
Prepare a simple pasta salad in a white serving bowl with a serving spoon

Save the pasta salad

  • Prepare this easy summer salad a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve!
  • Store leftover pasta salad in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Pasta does not defrost well, so freezing pasta salad is not a good idea. But since it’s so easy to make, just start a new batch!

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Did you make this pasta salad recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Close up of a plain pasta salad in a white serving bowl with a serving spoon
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Easy pasta salad recipe

Pasta salad with fresh veggies and a tangy Italian dressing is perfect for a potluck or backyard BBQ!

preparation time 20 protocol

cooking time 15 protocol

rest time 2 hours

total time 2 hours 35 protocol

a large saucepan with a lid
Mixing bowls on a white background
  • In a large saucepan, cook the noodles in salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.

  • Meanwhile chop the cucumber, grape tomatoes, bell pepper and red onion.

  • In a large bowl, combine your cooked and cooled pasta, prepared vegetables, Italian dressing, and fresh parsley. Stir well to coat.

  • Season with salt and pepper and carefully stir in the feta cheese.

  • Before serving, refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend and the pasta to soak in the dressing.

Any medium-sized pasta can be used. Be sure to cook al dente (firm) as the dressing will soften the pasta even more. Rinse under cold water after cooking to prevent overcooking. Serve the salad generously as the pasta will soak up the dressing. You can use any veggies in this recipe (including leftover cooked/roasted veggies). Other favorites include zucchini, peas, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Optional but delicious additions include ham, bacon, salami, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, artichokes, or finely diced broccoli. To quickly make a homemade pasta salad dressing, whisk together the following:
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil
  • 1 teaspoon each honey and Dijon mustard
  • When stirring very slowly Drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Portion: 1Cup | Calories: 233 | Carbohydrates: 34G | Protein: 8thG | Fat: 7G | Saturated Fatty Acids: 2G | Polyunsaturated fat: 2G | Monounsaturated fatty acids: 2G | trans fats: 1G | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 258mg | Fiber: 2G | Sugar: 5G | Vitamin A: 896IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and may vary depending on cooking method and brand of ingredients used.

course Pasta, salad, side dish
Kitchen American

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