Cold Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing! This easy family friendly dinner or lunch assembles quickly in 30 minutes and the leftovers are even better. Made with gluten free Rotini pasta noodles, cucumbers, broccoli, goat cheese, tomatoes, and a zesty Italian dressing.
We are all about cold pasta salad
Cold pasta salad, broccoli salads and coleslaw recipes are all made with freshly chopped vegetables and tossed with various versions of a delicious dressing. Some recipes use mayonnaise and some recipes use an oil and vinegar base.
Use our quick and easy homemade Italian dressing recipe or a store-bought Italian dressing for this recipe. If using one from the store, just look for a brand that is most natural and does not contain high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.
Why this pasta salad recipe works
+Easy pasta salad recipe! Growing up and to this day my mother always makes this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing for lunches for the week. Really, you can use any vegetables you have on-hand, but we like to add our favorites such as broccoli, tomatoes, and a punch of goat cheese flavor. The flavors tenderize and become even better, almost like soup does when eaten the next day.
+ Healthy gluten-free and vegetarian meal the whole family enjoys anytime! Pasta recipes are one of my favorite meals to make when I need something quick and healthy for my family. And guess what? A well balanced salad doesn’t always have to be served with lettuce and fresh greens. Afterall, that can get boring day after day. Pasta salads are a wonderful way to enjoy a balanced meal of carbs, protein, and vegetables in a one-bowl meal!
+Best served cold! Many warm pasta salad recipes include Italian marinara sauce or pesto sauce tossed with pasta noodles and sauteed peppers, zucchini, garlic and onion. Not to be confused with a cold pasta salad recipe – such tortellini pasta salad or this favorite bowtie pasta salad. The best thing about a cold pasta salad is that you can take it anywhere as it does not need to be heated.
+ Perfect for parties! It is a wonderful dish to take to picnics, parties, and bbq’s and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
It’s all about the crunchy ingredients
- gluten free Rotini noodles
- grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes – whole or cut into halves
- finely chopped broccoli
- shredded carrots
- white or red onion
- crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese
- garnish with black pepper
- favorite Italian dressing
We keep this recipe with simple ingredients but here are a few optional extra ingredients you can add: black olives, mozzarella cheese balls, chopped bell peppers, parmesan cheese shredded or grated, mini pepperoni.
How to make cold pasta salad with italian dressing
First: Boil the noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the noodles from cooking, then set aside.
Second: Rinse, chop and prepare all vegetables such as cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and onion. Set aside until ready to mix with the pasta when the noodles have cooled. This step can be done while the noodles are cooking.
Third: In a giant bowl mix together the cooled pasta noodles, prepared vegetables, goat cheese crumbles and 1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing.
I love to mix this in a large Pyrex mixing bowl with the lid on it and give it a good shake to mix all the ingredients together. Then refrigerate it in the container until it is ready to be served. This pasta salad is wonderful served both cold or warm and is great to take to potlucks and BBQ’s and parties.
Store this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing in the refrigerator in a sealed airtight container for up to 3 days. Toss it again before serving to mix the flavors together. It makes the perfect leftovers for lunch the next day!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! It can be made ahead of time, and in fact, that makes it more delicious! It is meant to be served cold so letting it chill for a couple of hours lets the flavors absorb and makes cold pasta salads more flavorful.
Feel free to switch the goat cheese to provolone and salami squares for an Italian pasta salad recipe. I use goat cheese or feta for its mild tangy and tart creamy flavor and it is easier on the gut, which is especially good for those who are sensitive to lactose or experience congestion after eating dairy.
Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing is amazing but it contains high fructose corn syrup. So we recommend using either Annie’s brand of Annie’s Tuscany Italian Salad Dressing and also Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing for a healthy pasta salad recipe. All of which can be found at most grocery stores.
Since there are fresh vegetables in this pasta salad that we want to stay crunchy, this recipe will last up to 3 days in the fridge for the best taste. Otherwise the cucumber and tomatoes will lose their crunch, but it is still safe to eat up to 5 days.
I do not advise cooking the past the day before. Cooked pasta noodles by themselves will start to clump and stick together if they are not tossed in an oil or dressing.
Always rinse the noodles with cold water right when they are finished cooking to prevent them from overcooking and becoming mushy.
If you make this cold pasta salad recipe from Delightful Mom Food I would love to see your creations and share it! Follow along with me on INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE and TWITTER to be featured and for more recipe inspiration! And don’t forget to rate the recipe in the recipe area and leave a comment below!
Cold Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing
- Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking then set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile remove the skins of the cucumber and slice lengthwise. Place two halves flat and slice again so you have 4 long slivers. Slice the slivers into small cucumber chunks. Rinse grape tomatoes and set a side. Peel carrots and then grate the carrots. Chop the broccoli into tiny pieces. Cut the onion into small dices. Put the vegetables in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the cooled Rotini noodles, cucumber slices, grated carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli, onion and goat cheese crumbles. Add 1 cup of Italian dressing. Combine well and garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve right away or chill this salad for a couple of hours before serving. This allows for an even more flavorful salad as the flavors combine.