Summer Pasta Salad Recipe is a refreshing side dish and BFF to any potluck, cookout or summer gathering. Served chilled and made in under 30 minutes, this quick side dish goes with just about everything! Easily sub ingredients to accommodate dietary restrictions or finicky palates.
The weather is finally warming up and boy are we glad! Summer is a busy time for us, but it’s hard to complain when the days are mostly spent by the pool with friends and going to family functions.
This Summer Pasta Salad Recipe comes in handy for those last minute pool day invites, cookouts and tailgating parties. With a few base ingredients, like the pasta and dressing, you can toss whatever you have on hand for a delicious side dish made in under 30 minutes. It’s a massive crowd pleaser recipe!
My mom always made this when we were growing up for a quick side dish to throw together. As kids, we always liked we could pick around the things we didn’t like.
Even though the ingredients call for things like olives, banana peppers, etcetera, you can still make this a kid-friendly recipe and allow them to pick around the yucky pieces. 🙂
What goes in pasta salad?
Start with noodles and build from there! The great thing about this pasta salad recipe is you can add or substitute any of the ingredients.
I’ve even heard people call this “everything but the kitchen sink” pasta salad… because you can add anything according to your taste!
Here are a few basic ingredients for summer pasta salad:
- Spiral Noodles
- Italian Dressing
- Cherry tomatoes
- Banana Peppers
- Green Onions
- Feta Cheese
- Grilled Veggies
My friend over on Kroll’s Korner used the same basic ingredients to make her Easy Italian Pasta Salad. She added julienned summer sausage, and used Sir Kensington’s Pepperoncini Italian Vinaigrette instead of regular Italian dressing. Her recipe is beautiful and looks delicious!
What noodles are best for pasta salad?
I have always used the multi-colored rotini (spiral shaped noodles) in my pasta salad, but any hearty pasta will do. Consider a shape with nooks and crannies to hold all of that dressing and flavor so you get some in each bite. The small shapes are good for hassle-free eating as you balance a paper plate. Tortellini is also a great pasta to use as it adds extra flavor in every bite.
The best noodles for making pasta salad:
- Multi-colored Rotini (spiral shape)
- Farfalle (bowtie shape)
- Tortellini (for a fun flavor addition)
Avoid spaghetti or long/large noodles as they will be more difficult to serve and eat.
Can you make pasta salad the night before?
Yes! In fact, it’s good to allow the salad to “marinate” a little before serving. All of the flavors will combine and mix with all of the other ingredients.
To make this the night before, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and add the dressing. Cover and refrigerate.
Since veggies absorb liquids, don’t add as much dressing the night before. Wait until you are ready to serve, then add to taste.
What goes with pasta salad?
Um, anything and everything. That’s what makes this dish such a blessing (wink) – it pairs beautifully with main dishes.
Dishes to serve with Pasta Salad:
- Grilled, Fried or Oven-Roasted Chicken
- Pork Chops
Without further ado, below is my summer pasta salad recipe. Make sure you share your version and the fun you are having at the party on Instagram and Facebook. Tag @projectstepmom and #projectstepmom
- Spiral Noodles*
- Black or Kalamata Olives, drained
- Italian Dressing, 1 bottle
- Cherry Tomatoes, whole
- Banana Pepper Rings, drained
- Green Onions, chopped
- Feta Cheese, crumbled, any flavor
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 teaspoons of Oregano, dried
Other Ingredients to Think About
- Grilled Veggies (sliced zucchini, squash, eggplant, onion)
- Varieties of olives
- Purple Onion, chopped
- Pepperoni Slices
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool.*
- To a large mixing bowl, add pasta, olives, whole cherry tomatoes, banana pepper rings, chopped green onion, feta cheese, seasonings and any other preferred ingredients.
- Gently to evenly distribute ingredients throughout the salad.
- Add approximately 1/4 of the bottle of Italian dressing and stir until ingredients are well-coated.
- Taste for flavor. Continue adding dressing as desired.
- Place in the fridge for 15 minutes prior to serving to allow flavors to distribute.
Transfer to serving bowl or serve right from the mixing bowl and enjoy!
*Spiral Noodles: I always use the multi-colored rotini noodles as they add a beautiful color, and the shape allows the dressing and flavors to get into each nook and cranny. BUT, you can use any hearty noodle you prefer.
*Cool noodles faster by rinsing with cool tap water.
Nutrition InformationYield 10-12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 73 Total Fat 2g Saturated Fat 1g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 1g Cholesterol 3mg Sodium 88mg Carbohydrates 13g Fiber 3g Sugar 4g Protein 3g