This summer pasta salad is the perfect side dish for warm summer days! Crisp, fresh veggies, tangy artichoke hearts, and salty feta are tossed with rotini and Italian dressing for a light, easy pasta salad recipe.
Looking for a side dish that’s made for those hot summer days when you don’t feel like standing over the stove for an hour or heating up your kitchen by turning on the oven? This easy pasta salad recipe is perfect for any picnic, potluck, or barbecue!
It’s light, refreshing, and best of all, it can be made in just a few minutes. Plus, it is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables you may have, or your bounty from the garden!
Even leftover air fryer Brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli, or asparagus would be good in this salad!
The Best Summer Pasta Salad Recipe
This pasta salad is the perfect summer dish for a few reasons. First, it’s fresh and delicious, made with simple ingredients that add tons of flavor and texture to your salad. And they’re all summer favorites!
Crunchy bell pepper, onions, and cucumber, along with sweet cherry tomatoes, are tossed in a zesty Italian dressing that brings it all together!
Another reason this pasta salad is perfect for summer is that it can be made in just minutes. Simply cook the pasta, chop up the vegetables, and toss everything together. That’s it!
This salad is great for making ahead of time; prepare it the night before and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
You’ll also love that this recipe is flexible and can be easily customized to your liking. Read on for some ideas!
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Ingredients for Simple Pasta Salad
- Dried rotini pasta
- Bell pepper – Use any color you like!
- Red onion – You can also use sweet white onion.
- Cucumber – If you use a seedless cucumber, you can skip the seeding.
- Cherry tomatoes – Grape tomatoes or diced tomatoes can be used instead.
- Artichoke hearts
- Feta cheese
- Fresh basil
- Fresh parsley
- Italian dressing
- Salt and pepper
Here are a few ideas for mixing things up!
- Use roasted vegetables like zucchini or eggplant, or steamed broccoli.
- Swap the arugula for spinach.
- Use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand from your garden.
- Omit the feta or swap it for Parmesan cheese.
- Use a homemade vinaigrette with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice instead of Italian dressing.
- Add kalamata or black olives.
- Toss in diced salami.
How to Make Summer Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta: Boil the pasta in a large pot according to the package directions, until it’s al dente.
- Toss the ingredients: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Chill: Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
You can save prep time by cooking the pasta ahead of time and keeping it in the fridge until you are ready to mix the other ingredients with it.
How to Store Summer Pasta Salad
This salad can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. Simply keep it in an airtight container or wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to serve, give it a good stir to redistribute the dressing and enjoy!
The best kind of pasta for pasta salad is any short, sturdy pasta. This includes shapes like shells, elbows (like in macaroni salad), or rotini. These pastas hold up well to the dressing and can be easily mixed with the other ingredients.
Pasta salad is a great side dish for any summer meal. Serve it alongside grilled chicken or burgers, on its own as a light lunch, or take it to your next potluck or picnic. It pairs well with other summer favorites like watermelon, corn on the cob, and ambrosia salad, along with other salad recipes like potato salad, pea salad, and Waldorf salad.
If you’re making summer pasta salad for a potluck or picnic, it’s best to make it the night before. This gives the flavors time to meld together so the salad is at the peak of deliciousness when you’re ready to serve it! If you’re short on time, you can also make it in the morning and let it sit for an hour or two before serving.
If your pasta salad is bland, it may be because it’s not properly seasoned. Be sure to taste the salad before serving and add salt and pepper as needed. You may also need to add more dressing if the salad seems dry. Another reason your salad might be bland is if your pasta or veggies were still wet when you added them to the salad; this will water down the flavor of the dressing. Be sure to drain everything well!
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Summer Pasta Salad
- 1 lb dried rotini pasta cooked
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 cucumber seeded and diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 12oz jar artichoke hearts in water drained and diced
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbled
- ⅓ cup basil finely chopped
- ⅓ cup parsley finely chopped
- 1 ¼ cups Italian dressing
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.