Summer cookouts wouldn’t be the same without a robust, quick & simple pasta salad on your plate. Am I right? Fresh cut veggies and hearty pasta marinated in a yummy dressing. Americans love their pasta salad! I happen to like it as well, especially when I can pump it up with a healthy twist. Instead of pepperoni, I use protein packed chickpeas and instead of bottled Italian dressing, I make my own! Don’t worry, my recipe won’t take away from the simple side of things. You can make this homemade pasta salad in less than 15 minutes and it’s even better when you make it ahead to let the flavors blend. It’s quick, simple, healthy and flavorful!
Quick, Simple Pasta Salad
Ready to make some pasta salad with me?
Come on in to my kitchen!
To me, there are two essentials to a great pasta salad: It must be flavorful and it must be colorful! Let’s start with flavor. I like to pour my own version of Italian dressing on the pasta because I find you get more vibrant flavors this way. Homemade dressing is super simple. You’ll need olive oil, white wine vinegar and an Italian seasoning mix that you can whip up from ingredients in your cupboard. In terms of color, when choosing the veggies you want to have in your salad, be sure to have at least 5 different colors represented. Here I have green, orange and yellow bell peppers. I also have black olives, purple-red onion and red cherry tomatoes.
To begin, you want to get your pasta cooking so it has time to cool before you add your veggies. Boil a pot of water and add one 12 oz. box of your favorite rotini. Today, I’m using whole wheat, but any rotini will do. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (approx. 9 minutes) and drain.
While the pasta is cooking, make your homemade dressing. I found a simple Italian seasoning mix on www.allrecipes.com. However, I changed the proportions of mix to liquid and even the type of liquid to fit our family’s taste. I prepared my dressing with the following:
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons Italian seasoning mix
I found that these proportions give way to a perfectly seasoned dressing for our pasta. The online mix recipe will make more than 3 Tablespoons, but that’s ok! Save it up for later when you need another batch of homemade dressing.
While the cooked pasta is still warm, pour on the dressing and give it a good mix.
In the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I like to substitute chickpeas for the classic pepperoni that we often find in pasta salad. I love chickpeas, especially for their health benefits. These 7,500 year old legumes are rich in protein, fiber, minerals and flavor! Not to mention, they add a more interesting texture to the dish. Drain one can of chickpeas and add then to your dressed up pasta.
Now for the veggies! You only have to remember one measuring cup quantity – 1/4 cup. Simple! Chop up three different colored bell peppers in 1/4 cup amounts. Also, slice 1/4 cup black olives and dice 1/4 cup red onion. Finally, slice up about 12 cherry tomatoes as well.
Lastly, add all your vegetables to the pasta and chickpeas and then add 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil. This will take your salad over the top! Mix it all up with a large spoon.
Finished! Now you have some of the best pasta salad you’ll ever taste – and simple too! Eat it alongside a fresh grilled burger with all the fixings and you’ve got yourself one fantastic summer cookout meal.
- 1 - 12 oz box rotini
- 1 cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
- 3 T. Italian seasoning mix
- 1 can chickpeas
- ¼ cup each of three different colored bell peppers
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- Boil one 12 oz. box of rotini until it is al dente (approx. 9 minutes) and drain.
- Make your Italian dressing by whisking together 1 cup olive oil, ⅓ cup white wine vinegar and 3 Tablespoons Italian seasoning mix.
- While the cooked pasta is still warm, pour on the dressing and mix well.
- Drain one can of chickpeas and add to the pasta.
- Add ¼ cup each of chopped bell peppers in three different colors, sliced black olives, diced red onion and chopped fresh basil.
- Add 12 sliced cherry tomatoes.
- Mix well and keep refrigerated until serving.
Looking for another delicious pasta recipe? You have to try this Easy Macaroni and Cheese!
Meredith is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom living in NW Ohio. She loves to adapt recipes to her family’s eclectic tastes and is learning to provide nourishment for any bellies who walk through the door at a moment’s notice. If not in the kitchen, you’ll find Meredith in front of her sewing machine or spending quality time with her home and church families. Life goes by so fast!