by Olena

Easy Healthy Pasta Salad with Veggies

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Olena Osipov
5 from 4 votes

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Friends, Healthy Pasta Salad exists! Loaded with whole grain pasta and bite sized veggies, this easy recipe is dressed in the same bowl with a flavorful dressing. It’s the perfect summer side dish!

Other healthy summertime favorites include Italian pasta salad, healthy chicken salad, and white bean salad.

Easy healthy pasta salad with veggies in a bowl.

This healthy pasta salad is out of this world!

During the summer I rotate between avocado egg salad, tomato pasta salad, and cauliflower potato salad when it comes to easy lunch, cold dinner or a backyard get together with friends.

This recipe combines hearty whole grain pasta, juicy tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, crisp vegetables for texture, salty olives, lots of fresh parsley, and luscious extra virgin olive oil for the healthiest pasta salad.

This cold pasta salad can be made in advance for any summertime holiday celebration. Take it with you to a potluck, picnic, or host a BBQ with other healthy grill recipes at home.

It is the best summer food!

Not only is pasta easy to make, but it can be made healthy. Ground turkey pasta bake and ground turkey and broccoli pasta are super popular healthy pasta recipes on iFOODreal, and for a reason. They pack nutrition, flavor and convenience.

Healthy Pasta Salad Ingredients

This easy pasta salad recipe is full of fresh and tasty ingredients plus makes enough to serve a crowd!

  • Whole grain pasta: I like to make healthy pasta with whole wheat, whole grain or gluten free pasta made with whole foods like beans, legumes and seeds.
  • Veggies: Asparagus, green beans or snap peas. Really any quick cooking vegetable that get softened within a few minutes of cooking. I often use a combination of these!
  • Tomatoes: I highly recommend not to skip tomatoes. Tomatoes add so much juice making this salad healthy without loads of extra dressing. Use medium, grape, or cherry tomatoes.
  • Cheese: Soft cheese like feta adds just the right amount of creaminess.
  • Olives: Pitted Kalamata or green olives add a briny, pickled taste.
  • Olive oil: Quality extra virgin olive oil is the best for the salad. Here are 3 healthy cooking oils I mainly use.
  • Dressing seasonings: Oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. This easy pasta salad dressing tastes similar to Greek salad recipe but with the addition of hearty pasta!
  • Fresh parsley: Adds an earthy fresh taste.
Whole grain pasta, tomatoes, asparagus, snap peas, feta, olive oil, parsley, olives, seasonings.

How to Make Healthy Pasta Salad

Made with simple ingredients, this pasta salad is ready in 20 minutes, then after a quick chill in the fridge, it’s ready to eat in under an hour.

1. Cook pasta with salt until al dente. Salt prevents pasta from sticking to each other and keeps it firm. Also undercooking or cooking until firm is the best pasta for healthy salad recipes because it won’t become a mush once tossed.

Also keep in mind that gluten free pasta cooks faster, so keep an eye on your pot.

Prep veggies while pasta is cooking.

2. Cook asparagus/snap peas/green beans in pasta water. Transfer cooked pasta to a salad bowl. Cook firm green veggies in pasta water for a minute or two.

3. Combine all ingredients together. I do not make the dressing separately but you can. I just add cooked vegetables, feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, herbs, spices, and olive oil to the salad bowl with pasta and toss gently.

4. Let salad sit for 30 minutes. Place it in the fridge and let all flavors “marry” each other. You will see this half an hour makes all the difference for cold pasta salad in the world!

Chopped olives, tomatoes, vegetables, parsley, crumbled feta, cooked pasta in a bowl.

Notes and Substitutions

  • Uniform size pieces: Chop all ingredients into same small bite size pieces, even olives. It helps with even distribution of all ingredients and salad dressing in every bite.
  • Mix-ins: Any firm vegetable that gets soft within a few minutes of cooking can be used. I often use broccoli but get creative and use what’s in season.
  • Tomatoes: Maximum you can replace the tomatoes with 1 long English cucumber.
  • Cheese: Goat cheese or parmesan cheese would equally work well! Or for a dairy free version learn how to cut an avocado for that touch of creaminess.
  • Olives: Anything pickled could also be used such as pickled asparagus, dill pickles, roasted red pepper, or beets.

Can I Make This In Advance?

Add all ingredients except oil and salt to a salad bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, toss and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Salt makes all veggies go limp and pasta soaks up oil quickly, that’s why these two ingredients go in last.

What to Serve This With?

With 26 grams of complex carbs coming from whole grains and veggies, this salad with pasta could be a filling meal on its own.

During the summertime, though, it pairs with proteins like grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon.

As far as healthy sides go, balsamic grilled vegetables is a family favorite!

FAQs

What pasta shape or size is best for healthy pasta salad?

I like to use small shapes like elbow macaroni, bowties, orzo or small penne. Rotini is fine too. If using larger size pasta like rotini, keep add-ins chopped small.

Can I add protein?

Yes, add diced Instant Pot chicken breast or open a can of tuna or salmon and toss it in there. We always toss entire can contents in this canned salmon salad. Keep it vegetarian with Instant Pot chickpeas.

Can I freeze pasta salad?

No. General rule of thumb in cooking is not to freeze any or anything dish with cooked pasta. Plus, some of the vegetables may not hold up well during freezing/thawing.

How to Store Pasta Salad

In the fridge, healthy pasta salad should last 2 days. It is like Instant pot borscht or Instant Pot beef stew and tastes better the next day.

But to be honest, my kids love this summer salad so much it has never lived long enough to see our world past 24 hours.

But 2 days covered and refrigerated guarantee freshness. Three days you are pushing it. Depends how hungry you are. 😉

More Healthy Summer Salads

Closeup of healthy pasta salad recipe with veggies.
Easy Healthy Pasta Salad with Veggies

Easy Healthy Pasta Salad with Veggies

Healthy Pasta Salad with whole grain pasta, bite sized veggies and dressed in the same bowl with a flavorful dressing.
5 from 4 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American Ukrainian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 261kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by 2-3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, cooked but firm. While pasta is cooking, start chopping asparagus or green beans.
  • Transfer cooked pasta to a large salad bowl. Add asparagus to pasta water and cook until it starts to boil. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon to a bowl with pasta.
  • Add tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, parsley, olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine.
  • If you have time, it’s best to let healthy pasta salad refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors “marry” each other. But you can serve it warm immediately or cold later.

Store: Refrigerate in a glass airtight container for up to 2 days.

    Make ahead: Add all ingredients except oil and salt to a salad bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, toss and let marinate for 30 minutes.

      Notes

      • What pasta is healthy? Whole wheat, whole grain or most gluten free pasta made with whole foods like beans, legumes and seeds. 
      • What pasta shape/size is best for pasta salad? I like to use small shapes like elbow macaroni, bowties, orzo or small penne. Rotini is fine too. If using larger size pasta like rotini, keep add-ins chopped small.
      • Uniform size pieces: Chop all ingredients into same small bite size pieces, even olives. It helps with even distribution of all ingredients and salad dressing in every bite.
      See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1cup | Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 451mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g

      Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.

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      7 comments on “Easy Healthy Pasta Salad with Veggies

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      1. 5 stars
        It’s super good, but needs a little more omph! Maybe something with spice? I loved how you recommended blanching some of the veggies. Also, feta is so good in it. Thanks! I’d like more like this.

      2. 5 stars
        Hi Olena…. I love your recipes and am so excited to find a young girl that enjoys cooking as much as I have my whole life. I am 80 years young.
        I have made and shared your recipe for baked chicken with smoked paprika. Everyone loves it.
        This Healthy Pasta Salad is the Bomb! I called it a Greek Salad because that’s what it tastes like to me. One thing I wanted to ask you do was check the cooking instructions. I think step # 4 is a mistake or some items were left out of ingredients list. Keep challenging us to cook and eat healthy. Love ?

        1. Hi Shirley! Thank you so much for your positive feedback on my salad and chicken recipes. You are right. There was a mistake on the recipe page. It has now been fixed. Thanks for reaching out 🙂

        1. Every recipe has nutritional info at the bottom of the recipe. For a one cup serving of pasta salad, there are 247 calories. Hope that helps!

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