Pasta salad – a crowd-pleasing recipe that brings together bright flavors, colorful veggies, and tender pasta in a delicious dressing. Perfect for side or main courses!
Homemade Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is a delicious combination of ingredients brings together cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, black olives, feta cheese, and fresh herbs like basil and parsley, all tossed together with pasta in a tangy, satisfying dressing. Each ingredient brings a unique component to the overall dish, allowing us to build layers of taste that meld beautifully together.
This delicious pasta salad recipe is the perfect blend of tangy, crunchy, and refreshing, making it an ideal dish for warm weather gatherings or even as a quick and easy lunch option. Not only will this recipe tickle your taste buds, but it’s also pleasant to the eyes with its vibrant colors and diverse textures.
The best thing about this salad is that it is incredibly customizable – you can choose your favorite veggies, cheese, and even pasta type.
To make it a heartier meal, you can add cooked and cooled protein such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas; for a vegan version, omit the feta cheese or replace it with a dairy-free alternative.
Ingredients for Pasta Salad
- Rotini Pasta: We’ve opted for rotini pasta in this recipe because its excellent at trapping the dressing, delivering a flavor-packed bite every time. However, the choice of pasta can be personalized based on preference.
- Fresh Vegetables: Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers add color, texture, and nutrition to the salad.
- Feta Cheese: Known for its crumbly texture and tangy, yet creamy taste, feta cheese adds boldness and depth.
- Red onion: adds a crisp texture and a slightly sweet and tangy flavor.
- Black olives: Salty and slightly bitter, black olives are a Mediterranean staple. They add a punch of flavor and contrast beautifully with the other ingredients in both color and taste.
- Fresh basil: bring a freshness to the salad and add another level of flavor complexity.
- Fresh parsley: add a bright, fresh flavor and a touch of green to the dish.
- Salt and pepper: enhance the flavors of your salad.
Homemade Pasta Salad Dressing
Pasta salad dressing is a flavorful sauce or mixture that is used to coat the ingredients in a pasta salad, adding moisture and flavor and enhancing the overall taste of the dish. It brings all the components of the salad together and provides a harmonious blend of flavors.
- Olive Oil: gives it a rich, fruity flavor and a silky texture.
- Red Wine Vinegar: gives the dressing a sweet and tart accent, balancing the taste and adding depth.
- Honey: provides a touch of sweetness and balances the flavors.
- Dijon mustard: add a tangy and slightly spicy flavor to the dressing.
- Aromatic Herbs and Spices: A blend of herbs and spices, including oregano, garlic, and black pepper, adds an aromatic taste to the dressing.
Making the Perfect Pasta Salad:
Step 1: Cook the Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta of your choice according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the Veggies and Cheese
In a large mixing bowl, combine the halved cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped bell pepper, thinly sliced red onion, sliced black olives, crumbled feta cheese, chopped basil, and chopped parsley.
Step 3: Whisk up the Dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, dried oregano, salt, and pepper to prepare the mouthwatering dressing.
Step 4: Combine and Serve
Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables and herbs in the large mixing bowl. Pour the prepared dressing over the pasta salad and gently toss until everything is evenly coated. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. You can serve the pasta immediately or refrigerate it for a couple of hours to let the flavors meld together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make pasta salad ahead of time?
You can make the pasta salad ahead of time. It typically tastes even better once the flavors mingle together. Refrigerate it in an airtight jar for 2-3 days.
Can I use different types of pasta?
While we used rotini in this recipe, you can get creative and use whatever pasta you choose. Pick a shape that will contain the dressing and ingredients effectively.
Can I make a vegetarian or vegan pasta salad?
You can adapt the pasta salad to vegetarian or vegan diets. Leave or substitute animal-based meats, cheeses, or dressings with plant-based equivalents.
Can I use store-bought dressing for pasta salad?
Yes, you may use store-bought dressing if you wish. On the other hand, when making your dressing, customize the flavors and ingredients to your preferences. Homemade dressings frequently add a more fresh and customized touch to the salad.
Can pasta salad be frozen?
Pasta salad is not recommended for freezing since the texture of the pasta and other ingredients might alter after thawing. It is best served fresh or refrigerated for a few days.
Storing Pasta Salad
Proper storage is essential for preserving the freshness and quality of pasta salad. Here are some guidelines for storing pasta salad:
- Refrigeration: Pasta salad should be refrigerated in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic. It helps to keep food fresh. Ensure you eat the refrigerated pasta salad within 2-3 days for the best taste.
- Separation of Dressing: If your pasta salad includes a dressing, keep it separate from the pasta and other components.
- Keep Chilled: Refrigerate the pasta salad at a steady temperature (below 40°F or 4°C). If you take the salad to an outdoor event or picnic, keep it chilled in a cooler with ice packs.
- Avoid Freezing: Pasta salad is inappropriate for freezing since the veggies and dressing might turn watery, making the pasta mushy. It is best served fresh or refrigerated for a few days.
- Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Overcooking might result in a mushy texture.
- Rinse the pasta in cold water after cooking it to halt the cooking process and chill it down. It keeps the spaghetti from becoming too soft or sticky. Drain it thoroughly before adding it to the salad.
- Refrigerate your pasta salad for at least an hour after assembling it. It enables the flavors to blend and the ingredients to marinate.
- Taste and adjust spices shortly before serving, as tastes may have mellowed. Add some dressing, salt, pepper, or herbs to improve the flavor.
What To Serve With Pasta Salad
Other Delicious Pasta Recipes
- Spicy Shrimp Pasta
- Cajun Jambalaya Pasta Recipe
- Cajun Shrimp And Pasta Recipe
- One pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta With Chicken
- Easy One-Pot Ground Beef Pasta
- 12 oz. rotini pasta or any pasta of your choice
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1 cup bell pepper any color, chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, black olives, feta cheese, basil, and parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients: olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables and herbs in the large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss gently until everything is evenly coated.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. You can serve immediately or refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the flavors meld together.
Rinse the pasta in cold water after cooking it to halt the cooking process and chill it down. It keeps the spaghetti from becoming too soft or sticky. Drain it thoroughly before adding it to the salad.
Refrigerate your pasta salad for at least an hour after assembling it. It enables the flavors to blend and the ingredients to marinate.
Taste and adjust spices shortly before serving, as tastes may have mellowed. Add some dressing, salt, pepper, or herbs to improve the flavor.
Let’s connect on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. I love keeping in touch with you; nothing brings me more joy than seeing pictures of your creations. Tag me @cheflolaskitchen on Instagram and Facebook.