Easy Pasta Salad Recipes
Pasta salad provides endless possibilities for new flavor combinations and ingredients. Here are some of our favorite recipes.
Easy pasta salads take the guesswork out of mealtime. Pasta salads are great for brunch, ladies luncheons, or light summer suppers. Add protein, such as chopped deli chicken, boiled shrimp, or sliced grilled steak, to turn a quick pasta salad into a main-dish meal. Use your leftovers! Combine various unused pasta shapes with colorful veggies and herbs for an appealing and fresh salad. Whether it is simply too hot to fire up the oven, or you need a quick and easy supper for a busy weeknight, one-pot pasta salads are hearty enough to satisfy the entire family. Perfect for a picnic or potluck, pasta salads are easy to assemble and easy to transport. You are sure to find a favorite in this selection of flavor-filled pasta salad recipes.
Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Farfalle and fresh veggies make a delicious summer side. For this salad, an assortment of the beautiful colors of bell peppers, as well as field peas, combine well with the pasta. Cook the pasta so it is just firm, or "al dente," and it will go well with the crunch of the fresh vegetables. Mix the dressing up to three days in advance; then toss when ready to serve. We like using mini farfalle in this recipe so that all of the ingredients are about the same size, but swap in any pasta shape you like.
Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Recipe: Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
This summer pasta salad is so filling it is almost hard to think of it as a salad. It has all the meat from a deli-roasted whole chicken tossed in, as well as farfalle, sliced zucchini and squash, and the sweetness of coarsely chopped nectarines. Together, these tastes are fresh and light, but incredibly delicious. Tossed with Lime Vinaigrette, which is zesty with just the right hit of vinegary acids, you get just that little extra hint of tartness, which makes this salad only seem even more seasonal. Our colorful pasta salad is so satisfying it qualifies as dinner.
Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Recipe: Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Lemon and shallots marry for a bright taste that's ideal for a ladies' lunch or light supper. If you can't find haricots verts, you can easily use regular green beans instead. Also, penne pasta is a great substitute for casarecce if you already have it on hand. Once you're ready to go in the kitchen, we love how quickly this recipe comes together—you can have it from countertop to table in just 30 minutes! You'll love the bright citrusy flavor paired with the perfect amount of crunch from the green beans. Add in the slightly salty flavor of grated Parmesan cheese, and the sweetness of Champagne vinegar, and this is a crisp, light delight.
Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing
Recipe: Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing
Throw some avocado wedges and fiery buttermilk dressing into pasta salad to make it taste good and be good for you. Crushed garlic gloves, ground red pepper, chili powder, and black pepper all bring the heat, so when this dressing says it is spicy you know it is not kidding. Low-fat buttermilk, light sour cream, and some canola may all keep this dressing light, but it is still definitely delicious. In fact, it tastes so good you may want to double this recipe. This salad is the perfect solution for a last-minute party or potluck since you probably have a lot of these ingredients right there in your pantry.
Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
If you like broccoli salad, you'll love this version. The toasted pecans mixed with the grapes and onions will add just the right amount of nuttiness to this salad. When you add in the bacon, it creates a smoky-flavored sensation. The crunch of the pecans and the bacon are the sound of the perfect dish, but the broccoli will also contribute to this delight—fresh and finely chopped, this vegetable brings a light flavor and a beautiful texture to this dish. Cook the pasta carefully because it needs to hold its own when you toss it with the dressing. The sweet-yet-tangy dressing will bring all the flavors of this great dish to the fore. Grab some salad tongs and enjoy a serving or two.
Cooking Video: Easy & Delicious Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Recipe: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Grabbing some fresh vegetables from the farmers' market means that making this dish becomes a seasonal delight. Think of the flavors of baby heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, corn, and peaches. This is a true Southern-market take on traditional pasta. As with any pasta, be sure to cook the pasta al dente (1 or 2 minutes shorter than package directions specify) so it holds its shape when tossed with the vegetables and vinaigrette. Tossing it with the Parmesan Vinaigrette means that every bite has a little tangy tartness and a touch of salt. Ripe for riffs, the salad is also delicious with cheese-filled tortellini.
Watch: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Tangy Tzatziki Pasta Salad
Recipe: Tangy Tzatziki Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is a classic Southern side dish found on many a lunch or dinner table. One of the delights about this dish is that it is so easy to create variations with just a few simple extras. This Greek-style pasta salad includes kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes, creating a rich combination of flavors. The feta cheese tops it off with a little creaminess and saltiness. You can even make a hearty meal out of you favorite barbecue side dish by adding in these delicious Greek ingredients and some shredded or chopped chicken. In the words of one online reviewer, "this is a fabulous dish."
Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad
Recipe: Summer Tortellini Salad
Many of these salad recipes can be served with almost any entrée. With a few added ingredients, and even as-is, some are even hearty enough to serve as the main dish. For this salad—which one reviewer said was the "Best Salad Ever!" Mix and match the ingredients according to what you already have on hand. For a rich, filling dish, begin with some cheese-filled tortellini pasta. Then toss in some salty green and black olives, some onions, and beautiful bell peppers. Herbes de Provence anchor the tangy vinegar-based dressing that lightly coats all of the ingredients, so you will love the variety of flavors.
Recipe: Shrimp-and-Pasta Salad
Peeled, cooked shrimp are one of the flavors of summer, and their delicate flavor works well in a variety of salads. This recipe, which is light and lemony, easily doubles for dinner with friends. What makes this salad special are the sweet tastes of citrus from the thin wedges of nectarine, as well as the bold pops of flavor and color from the juicy raspberries. Cooked-to-perfection shell pasta creates a firm bite for the foundation of this salad, then cool cucumber chunks add to a colorful composition. A little spicy arugula creates great flavors with every bite.
Cooking Demo: Shrimp-and-Pasta Salad
Roasted Red Pepper-Caesar Tortelloni
Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper-Caesar Tortelloni
If you like Caesar salad, you’ll love this Caesar-and-pasta twist. Lemon juice, lemon rind, and Dijon mustard enhance bottled Caesar dressing to make a warm, creamy sauce for tortelloni and roasted red bell pepper strips. Tortelloni, in case you were wondering, are similar pasta to tortellini, just larger. Should you prefer tortellini, or you can't find tortelloni at your local supermarket, you can just substitute it. Top this with Caesar-style croutons for your salad to have a little extra crunch—the croutons will also absorb some of that delicious dressing.
Confetti Pasta Salad
Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad
Feta cheese, grape tomatoes, and red onion give this pasta salad recipe Greek flair, and the star ingredient—dill—adds a punch of flavor to the combination. The key is chopping all the vegetables so you get the salad's full flavors in every bite. The vinaigrette brings the bite of fresh lemon juice, a subtle touch and the hint of spice from pressed garlic, and the heat of Dijon mustard to this Greek-inspired dish. Even though this salad is delicious immediately after it comes together, we recommend chilling it for a few hours in the refrigerator to enhance all the flavors.
Mustard-Dill Tortellini Salad Skewers
Recipe: Mustard-Dill Tortellini Salad Skewers
These salads-on-a-stick make outdoor entertaining or holiday gatherings simple. Refrigerated cheese tortellini is the secret ingredient that gets this recipe quickly off the starting blocks, and you’re short on time you can mix everything together in your favorite serving bowl and set a table buffet-style. White wine vinegar, two cloves of fresh garlic, fresh dill, and Dijon mustard, all come together in a sweet-and-tart vinaigrette. Drizzle it over the tortellini and the snap peas for just the perfect amount of seasoning—it will give every mouthful just a little bite. And serving these skewers is simple so let guests help themselves.
Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Recipe: Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
This salad includes just about everything but the kitchen sink, but if you feel that there is anything that would enhance this recipe's fantastic tastes, feel free to add any extra vegetables or herbs of your choice. Artichoke hearts cut into strips, roasted red peppers, smoked mozzarella chunks, and chopped green chiles create a great mix of flavors while pine nuts add a finishing crunch. The rotini pasta is perfect for holding the dressing, but you can just as easily substitute the pasta of your choice if desired. One reviewer described this dish as "the best pasta salad I've ever had." Pasta salads are a staple on Southern tables, and this one has the Southern Living reader seal of approval.
Green Bean, Grape, and Pasta Toss
Recipe: Green Bean, Grape, and Pasta Toss
Broccoli salad fans will love this combination of ingredients. Cooking the pasta al dente will mean that it is still firm enough to keep its shape and texture when tossed and dressed. Pasta, grapes, and onions, mixed with toasted pecans, create a delectable mix of sweet and slightly nutty flavors. Stir in the bacon and you have all the subtle smokiness this salad needs. Green beans, bacon, and pecans are all crunch delights in this salad, while the pasta holds its own when paired with the tangy yet sweet—and just slightly salty—red wine vinegar-based dressing.
Shrimp Pasta Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Recipe: Shrimp Pasta Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Creamy herb-infused Green Goddess Dressing is the star of this salad. It mixes together ingredients including parsley and chives, but that subtle flavor hidden within the creamy mixture is anchovy paste, with a little tartness courtesy of fresh lemon juice. Plump, pink shrimp provide richness, and the shell pasta—that is already tossed with just a little bit of Champagne or white wine vinegar for some tangy tartness—catches every drop of the incredible dressing. We used yellow bell peppers; substitute a variety of peppers to add flavor and color. A bed of Green Leaf lettuce frames it all, and makes this a super, delicious, summer salad.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Tortellini Salad
Serve appetizer portions of this easy pasta salad on small tapas plates. Our readers have made this a five-star-rated recipe, with one of them describing it as "definitely a keeper." We agree. The Parmesan cheese-and-Worcestershire sauce-based dressing tossed over the salad creates the perfect pairing of salty and spicy without being overwhelming. This is a rich dish thanks to the cheese-filled tortellini, but the sweet peas and sliced green onions keep it light. This makes a great quick-fix weeknight supper. Or, for a summer evening with guests, consider serving this as a main meal and pairing it with a wonderful white wine.
Recipe: Tortellini-and-Tomato Salad
Adding fresh baby heirloom tomatoes is a great way to brighten a cheese-filled tortellini pasta salad. This rich and creamy dish gets tossed with green onions and herbs. A homemade vinaigrette brings in distinctive flavors including freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Then, the crunch of fresh corn kernels and the crisp spice of sliced green onions flavor the pasta. Top this with freshly chopped basil for some extra seasonal flavor. According to our reviewers, you'll love this as dinner on a warm summer evening. One enthused, "We enjoyed it out on the patio tonight with a glass of white wine." We hope you enjoy it too.
Thai Noodle Salad
Recipe: Thai Noodle Salad
Fresh jalapeño peppers and cilantro give this Asian pasta salad a kick of heat while mild cucumber, peanuts, and honey balance these bold flavors. Finely shredded cabbage adds just a little subtle crispness to this noodle bowl, while the mint brings in an unexpected fresh sensation. You should be able to find fish sauce in the ethnic food section of your supermarket or at specialty Asian food stores, or you can substitute soy sauce if you prefer. This noodle salad works great for a weeknight meal—think of it as a go-to, quick-fix supper. Or, save it for friends and serve it for a festive party. Either way you'll love this savory and spicy salad.
Bacon Bow Tie Pasta
Recipe: Bacon Bow Tie Pasta
Would you like a recipe for a homemade white sauce that can be ready in 10 minutes? Yes, please. The half-pound of crisp, crunchy bacon is a taste bud tantalizer as well. Pair the two with warm pasta and you have the perfect weeknight dinner. Round out the meal with a mixed green salad and lightly toasted Italian bread. If you want all of the flavor, but less of the fat, you can lighten up the entrée by using reduced fat turkey bacon, 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, and 2% reduced-fat milk. However you prepare this Bacon Bow Tie Pasta, the result is the same: delectable.
Recipe: Peanut-Noodle Salad
Inspired by the classic Thai dish pad thai, this easy noodle salad incorporates a variety of vegetables and flavors but leaves plenty of room for add-ons and creativity. Cucumbers, carrots, onions, and soba noodles form the foundation for whatever you want to put together. For a main dish meal, try adding precooked shredded chicken or slices of beef. What's even better is how many ways this dish can come to the table: You can serve this dish hot, cold, or at room temperature. So prepare it early for a picnic or potluck; have it ready to go when guests come over; or bring it hot to the table ready to be devoured. The choice is yours.
Fresh Pesto Pasta Salad
Recipe: Fresh Pesto Pasta Salad
This Italian-inspired salad uses basic ingredients and is easy to prepare. Rather than have you combine all the pesto ingredients in a food processor, you simply bring them together in the bowl: the texture and taste of the toasted pine nuts is incredible. For more depth, you can add in a few tablespoons of store-bought pesto to bring out the flavors of the fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Otherwise, this light salad is the perfect summer dish. Garnish it with mixed baby greens, and grape tomatoes or small, pear-shaped tomatoes. Then enjoy the Italian flavors of this quick-fix salad.