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Easy Pasta Salad Recipe with Italian Dressing

Updated on August 3, 2012

Pasta Salad with Vegetables and Italian Dressing

This pasta salad recipe includes rotini pasta, Italian dressing, vegetables, and sunflower seeds.
This pasta salad recipe includes rotini pasta, Italian dressing, vegetables, and sunflower seeds. | Source

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3.5 stars from 18 ratings of Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing and Vegetables

Cold Pasta Salad: A Great Picnic Recipe

Pasta salad is an excellent side dish to make for summer potlucks or for picnic outings. The colorful noodles and vegetables are refreshing and complement dishes like BBQ chicken, ribs, or any other grilled food. I often eat this pasta salad on its own for lunch.

Choose a pasta with grooves or a coiled shape to help enhance the flavor: rotini pasta is a good choice because the coiled pasta shape helps hold onto the Italian dressing. Pasta shells, cavatelli, farfalle (bow tie pasta), fusilli, and campanelle are all great choices for this salad.

With a few minutes of preparation, this easy recipe is ready to serve. Simply boil the pasta, cut up the vegetables, and add the Italian dressing and sunflower seeds for a delicious accompaniment to your meal. Punch up the health benefits of this recipe by using whole grain pasta and fat-free Italian dressing. This is an easy way to get a rainbow of vegetables into your diet!

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Makes 1 large bowl of pasta salad.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce package multicolored rotini pasta
  • 12 ounce bottle Italian dressing
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into coins
  • 1/4 cup seasoned sunflower seeds

Pasta Salad Preparation Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cook and drain the pasta. Rinse under cold water.Cut the carrots into 1/4" thick coins.Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.Dice the bell peppers.Add the seasoned sunflower seeds and the Italian dressing to the salad. Stir to combine the ingredients and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Cook and drain the pasta. Rinse under cold water.
Cook and drain the pasta. Rinse under cold water. | Source
Cut the carrots into 1/4" thick coins.
Cut the carrots into 1/4" thick coins. | Source
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. | Source
Dice the bell peppers.
Dice the bell peppers. | Source
Add the seasoned sunflower seeds and the Italian dressing to the salad. Stir to combine the ingredients and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Add the seasoned sunflower seeds and the Italian dressing to the salad. Stir to combine the ingredients and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. | Source

How to Prepare Pasta Salad

  1. Cook the tri-color rotini pasta in salted, boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Add the drained pasta to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut the bell pepper into small pieces, discarding the seeds and inner membranes. Add the bell peppers to the bowl of pasta.
  4. Peel the carrots and cut into coins approximately 1/4" thick. Add the carrots to the bowl of pasta.
  5. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and add them to the bowl.
  6. Add 1/4" cup of seasoned roasted sunflower seeds to the pasta salad.
  7. Add approximately 2/3 bottle of Italian dressing to the pasta salad. Stir the salad to combine all ingredients, and taste to determine if more dressing is needed. Do not drench the pasta, but ensure enough dressing is in the salad to evenly flavor the ingredients.
  8. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make Your Own Italian Dressing

Instead of purchasing commercially prepared Italian Dressing, you can make your own. Simply combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Blend the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Personalize the Salad with Substitutions

This salad is versatile and the vegetables may be changed to suit individual taste. If you like olives, add them for an Italian touch. If you like, use sliced radishes in place of the tomatoes. A popular variation of this salad includes the use of multi-colored cherry tomatoes and cubes of mozzarella cheese.

In addition, the type of salad dressing may be altered to affect the taste. Try using a Parmesan-flavored Italian dressing or a creamy Italian dressing. For a mozzarella cheese-tomato pasta salad, try using a gourmet sun-dried tomato dressing. The possibilities are endless!

Comments

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    • PenHitsTheFan profile image

      Amy L. Tarr 4 years ago from Home

      I just made pasta salad last week. But I have never thought to use the sunflower seeds in there. I like the idea. 5 stars.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      I love the color of tri-colored pasta. It just looks so good you have to eat it! Thanks for sharing! Kelley

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      YUM! I love pasta salad! The sunflower seeds are used in my house too :) Voted up and shared :)

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      The sunflower seeds are great in pasta salad, PenHitsTheFan - they add a little bit of saltiness and an extra crunch - delicious!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      It is the perfect thing for summer, Kelleyward! Nice and cool, and easy to keep in the fridge for lunch or a side dish!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I'm glad to hear of at least one other person who uses sunflower seeds in their pasta salad, CassyLu! They're really good!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

      I have only had pasta salad once or twice in my life, and now I'm really wondering why I have not had it more! This looks like a perfect summer dish- and it's so simple!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      We are drenched and hot here at the moment, and nothing sounds better than cold food, Simone! It is over 90 degrees with high humidity (and we don't have air conditioning), so I have a feeling pasta salad will be on the list for tomorrow!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We love pasta salads. Like you said, the ingredient list is endless as to what can be added, substituted, etc. Homemade dressings such as yours are so much better tasting and less expensive than the store bought varieties that are filled with preservatives. I also like the fact of the length of time they can be kept refrigerated. I must make another one soon. Thanks for the inspiration. Voted up, useful and will share.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      What a beautiful salad, and this is the second home made salad dressing I've seen today. Thanks much for a fabulous crowd pleaser!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      There are so many variations to pasta salad - I love them all, Peggy! Homemade dressing is pretty easy to make, and you can personalize those, too. Thanks for the comment (and sharing) - I hope you have a good day!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks, RTalloni! This one is always a pleaser in our house, especially on these hot and humid days. it is so nice to reach into the fridge for lunch!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I love pasta, too - and this recipe is so healthy because it really allows you to get a rainbow of vegetables in your diet! Thanks, Mahua!

    • catchadream profile image

      catchadream 4 years ago from Lakeland, Florida

      Pasta salad is something we make all the time, great to bring camping. It stays fresh for a long time. I usually add broccoli and black olives, season with chives from my garden and parmesan cheese. Anything goes.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      It would be a great thing to take camping, catchadream! This recipe originally called for black olives, but my husband and I aren't big olive fans, so we leave them out. Pasta salad is great because you can adjust it to your personal taste! Chives and parmesan sound really good!

    • catchadream profile image

      catchadream 4 years ago from Lakeland, Florida

      The Chives are great because they are a natural way to add flavor. The parmesan just works because its good with pasta and italian dressing.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I have some chives growing on the back deck, so I definitely need to try that next time! Parmesan is always a winner, in my book!

    • My SciFi Life profile image

      My SciFi Life 4 years ago from London, UK

      looks really yummy ... can't wait to try it this weekend. shared.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      We like making pasta salad as a side dish with our BBQ chicken in the summer (and I love the leftovers for lunch)! Thanks for the comment, My SciFi Life!

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