This Easy Vegetarian Pasta Salad is packed with tons of vegetables, salty feta cheese and a tangy red wine vinegar dressing. It’s perfect for a summer potluck or BBQ!
I’ve been wanting to make a vegetarian pasta salad recipe for a while now and my husband needed an easy potluck dish for a work party so it was the perfect opportunity! I like to call this my clean out the fridge pasta salad because you can really throw any veggies in that you have on hand.
I do have a fall themed pasta salad recipe on here, but I usually think of summer when I think pasta salad. It’s light, packed with as many veggies as you want and is always a go-to side dish for your summer parties!
Vegetarian Pasta Salad Recipe Ingredients
- Pasta – You can use any kind of pasta you like to make pasta salad, but the classic is rotini. Rotini works well because it has lots of nooks and crannies for the dressing to get stuck. I used this fun curly pasta that I got from Trader Joe’s and it worked great.
- Vegetables – This pasta salad recipe is great because you can use any veggies you have on hand. For this recipe I used: red bell pepper, green bell pepper, cucumber, celery, onion and tomato. Black olives would also be great but I didn’t have any on hand.
- Feta Cheese – I love feta cheese in pasta salad. If vegan, you can use vegan feta cheese or just omit it.
- Fresh Herbs – I used a big handful of fresh parsley but dill, or even mint, would work great too. Fresh herbs add a nice fresh flavor and are especially great with spring or summer pasta salad recipes.
- Dressing – I made an easy red wine vinegar based dressing and it was perfect! I love using red wine vinegar in pasta salad but you can use any kind of vinegar you prefer.
How To Make Easy Pasta Salad
Pasta Salad is super easy to make, which is one reason it’s great for a last minute potluck or BBQ side dish!
- Start by cooking your pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your pasta and a little bit of salt. I don’t always salt my pasta water, but I find is important when making pasta salad because it really does add lots of flavor. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside until ready to use. I like to mix the pasta with a small amount of olive oil so that it doesn’t stick together, but it’s up to you. Or, if you’ve already made your dressing, you can add a bit of dressing.
- Once the pasta has cooled a little bit, add it to a large bowl. Next, dice up all your vegetables and fresh herbs and add those on top of the pasta, along with the feta cheese.
- Make your dressing: add all the dressing ingredients to a medium sized bowl and whisk together until combined. Pour dressing over the pasta and veggies and mix everything together well. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
Tips & Tricks For Making The Best Pasta Salad Recipe
- The type of pasta you use is important! As I said above, it’s nice to use a pasta with lots of nooks and crannies for the dressing to get into. This will add more flavor to your pasta salad. Rotini is the classic pasta for pasta salad, but you can also use something else that is similar, like I did.
- Salt your pasta water. I don’t always salt my pasta water, but I find that it is important when making pasta salad. I just add a few teaspoons but it makes the pasta nice and salty and adds great flavor to the recipe!
- Load it up with vegetables! Pasta salad is not all about the pasta, I like to add as many fresh veggies as I can to bulk it up. It makes it healthier and it tastes great!
- Add fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are super flavorful and add a nice freshness to your pasta salad. I would recommend parsley, cilantro, dill, mint or even oregano.
- Make a flavorful dressing. My dressing recipe has equal parts olive oil and vinegar. It may seem like it would be too tangy that way, but the dressing is the main flavor component in the salat so it’s important that it packs a punch!
Classic Pasta Salad Frequently Asked Questions
- Is this recipe gluten free? No, but it can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free pasta.
- Is this recipe vegan? No, but it can easily be make vegan by omitting the feta cheese or using vegan feta cheese. These days you can buy vegan feta cheese at most grocery stores.
- Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time? Yes, it actually develops more flavor if it sits for a few hours. I would recommend storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but if making it ahead of time for an event, I would suggest just about 24 hours ahead of time.
- Can I use a store-bought dressing? Yes, I would recommend a red wine vinegar based dressing or an Italian style oil and vinegar based dressing.
- Can I use different vegetables? Yes! You can use any kind of veggies you like!
Have a question that I didn’t answer? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!